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Finish Along Sponsor Highlight - Mad About Patchwork

Thanks to my little internet outage a couple of weeks ago, the last Sponsor Highlight for Q3 is coming to you on a Monday, just to keep you all on your toes!  This week it's Canadian shop  Mad About Patchwork:

The lovely ladies at Mad About Patchwork have recently had a blog hop round all their favourite Canadian bloggers, so they may have crossed your radar more than once in the last few weeks, but while they were allowing you to nose around their hoppers sewing rooms, I'm just going to get right on in there with the fabric and stuff (you'd never want to see my room anyway!)

Right off the bat, I was taken by this Alison Glass pattern, featured on the front page, and which they've made up into a kit.  I do love quilts that aren't just one repeated block, and this just spoke to me:

I am finally willing to concede that it might be edging closer to that 'C' time of year, and this would be a funky family quilt for the big day, also in kit form:

As a few FQs of this collection just dropped through my door, of course I have to try and persuade you to match me with some Tula Pink Moonshine.  Seriously, you need it just for the deer, who have little teeny butterfly noses...

Now I have to admit that Kaffe Fasset isn't my usual cup of java, but after seeing Sarah's recent creation with it, I'm suddenly seeing potential in this, maybe in some kind of millefiori way...

As I sit here staring at my part finished 9 Patch Curves quilt, that I'm contemplating taking away to a retreat this weekend, I'm thinking these would be really useful right now!

And finally, having been playing with iron on vinyl of late, I think you really need some of this stuff to play with yourself, it's so much fun!

Okay, I think that's enough theme and variation to truly highlight their range, now head on over and check it all out for yourself!

What Would You Make?

This little FQ bundle from the new Tula Pink Moonshine line recently dropped through my door.

It's a curated bundle of a mix across the 2 colourways in the line, although they do all play nicely together.

My question for you, is what would you make with this?  A quilt?  A bag?  Something else entirely?  I absolutely adore Tula fabrics, but I do admit to struggling with what to do with the larger prints, like the deer, to truly show them off.

PS. I have a fair idea of what I'd like to do with it, you know, when I get a spare moment, but I'm completely open to alternative suggestions (not least because on 2 projects in the last week I've had a complete body swerve at the last minute!)
Fabric Shop Customer Service

As I head out today to meet up with a bunch of local fabric enthusiasts (albeit for the most part in dress making form) I've been pondering the customer service that we receive at our fabric shops both in store and online.

Now Mandors, where we are meeting today to spend some Itison vouchers we got recently, is an Aladin's cave of dress-making, home decor and, to a lesser (and very line-limited) extent, quilting fabric.  They employ a large number of staff members to deal with the cutting and pattern finding and phone answering and till ringing-up, and for the most part I can trust that I get at least what I have requested, length wise, usually with at least an additional inch or so just to be on the safe side.  When cut, they fold the fabric fairly neatly and efficiently, and stack it up as they go.  They don't bat an eyelid as you haul more and more bolts to their table, and are often genuinely curious as to what you'll be creating.  This would be a good customer experience.

With exclusively online shops, it's not like you can pitch up and physically add the bolts for cutting, but for the most part I've had good customer service from these places, the only true exception being Fabric.com.  That was awful - weeks late, half the order missing, and what was there was badly hacked about.  Usually though, the fabric arrives nicely packaged, sometimes in layers of tissue paper as well as a plastic ziploc type bag to save the fabric in the event of the parcel being dropped in transit in a puddle.  Often they include little scraps or samples of other fabrics that they stock, and usually a wee thank you note as well.

Here is an example of a lovely parcel I received a couple of years ago now from Dragonfly Fabrics in the UK (unfortunately since then I've tended to tear into my fabric parcels too quickly to record the beautiful packaging!)

These days quite a few of the online shops that I order from have gone to a bricks and mortar shop as well, but they still seem to retain that level of customer service that they had before they 'made it big', and have managed to pass on to their additional staff the ethics that they started with.

Why have I been pondering this so much?  Well that's because this is just a sample of one of 3 fabrics that arrived in a parcel this week from Remnant House in Harrogate (apologies for the phone pic, I wanted to get it refolded and put away, it was giving me a nervous twitch!):

That is 3m of Klona cotton that has been generally scrunched and chucked in the vague direction of the 'envelope'.  They never fold it neatly, they never pack it carefully to protect it from the elements, and it is always just shoved directly into a Parcelforce polythene bag (that has that lovely petrochemical smell to it).  Now Parcelforce does require the bag for their transport purposes, but most other companies that use them put in some additional packaging inside, be it a box or a ziploc type bag.

Remnant House is a bricks and mortar shop that went online, rather than the other way round as far as I can gather.  I have been buying Klona from them as they are the cheapest stockists of it, and I actually like the sizing on the fabric which leaves it effectively starched, saving me from having to do it!  It's also about 8" wider than its Kona cousin.  What I don't like is that over the past few years their service has got worse and worse.  This time is the last straw, as apart from the terrible 'folding', the fabric arrived ripped off the bolt rather than cut (although their cutting has always been fairly dire too), which of course strains the fabric near the rip, and leaves it stretched, ruffled and unusable for a good inch or two.

When a rather more generous friend of mine, who also received an appalling parcel from them this week, e-mailed them to complain, sending a photo of both her own and my parcel contents, the reply she received implied that quite frankly they had far too many orders to fulfil quickly to be bothered with the niceties of actually presenting things well.  It quite pointedly did not contain anything along the lines of an apology, just a vague, thank you for bringing this to our attention, and that the sender would keep an eye on the folding.  Please note that it generally arrives far more slowly than ordering from other shops too, so the 'getting it out ASAP' implication rather made my jaw drop!

So here's my question for you.  Have I been spoiled rotten by my nice local shop and my hard working online suppliers in the past, or should I actually expect to receive things in a usable manner?   In the future I think I shall pay the £1.50/m extra that Klona is elsewhere, as obviously that pays for nicer staff with a better work ethic.
Work In Progress Wednesday

As I write this, I'm cowering at one end of my living room, where the computer is, while the most enormous spider canters round my sewing area at the other end.  It's a shame because I was actually on a bit of a roll with the project I started playing with over the weekend.  Maybe it knew I was still missing my binding fabric (that I'm hoping will arrive in the next day or so), but either way, I do hope it doesn't think it's moving in there...

Finishes This Week:

Ha, not one little thing

In Progress This Week:

During my enforced internet outage last week this progress to all the curves sewn and 2/8 rows sewn together, but although my camera was still functioning just fine, I failed to take a photo of the whole thing on the design wall in my excitement to get it sewn together, sorry!

I played with a few new techniques over the weekend, but the spider has foiled my attempts at a near finish:

 To Be Worked On This Week:

My spider assassination skills/denial skills
Finishing the 'play' project
Working with some Tula goodness

Linking up with Lee and the gang:

Finish Along Sponsor Highlight - Sew Me A Song

Sorry for the unplanned break last week, but we're back today with one of my favourite sponsors (well, let's face it, the only one that's ever taken me shopping for her actual shop!), Becca from Sew Me A Song:

Becca specialises in Japanese and 'contemporary' fabrics, but I like to think of her as specialising in fussy cutting and texty goodness.  The things that if you were able to curate an entire stash of fabric just for, say, art quilts or paper piecing, this would be the place to do it.

My text fabric supplies got rather depleted in my recent 9 Patch Curves venture, but I think these would make up for that nicely:

Becca also has a stock of blenders that I'm rather partial to, such as these from Cori Dantini.  I have a soft spot for Cori Dantini fabrics at the best of times (big project with them coming up actually), but I really do like these blenders, just a little different from your average polka dot:

One of these days I'm going to grab this 29 FQ bundle of Suzuko Koseki prints, doesn't it look pretty?  Plus there's all sorts of quirky prints in there.

In the new arrivals section this made me giggle, not least because it's about the shape of me in a swim suit (trust me, not a vision you ever want!)  Heather Ross mermaids, eat your heart out ;o)

Look, fabric just for me!  It must be for me, it has my initial on it..

And finally chocolate, text, butterflies, musical notes and architecture, how many more trends could one cram in one bit of fabric?!

Okay, off you all pop now to peruse the shop, trust me, you'll get sucked in and end up with a rather larger stash as a result ;o)
Having A Play

It's been a stressful few weeks of late between working lots of extra time, that little election thing, and many weekend engagements all before my broadband router died and the replacement took a week to arrive (I could have driven to Sky HQ in Livingston and back in, like, an hour!), so when I finally got this last weekend free and clear, and absolutely no work invaded (as had happened the last 'free weekend' I thought I had), I looked at my 'to do' pile, and my cleaning list, and promptly ignored the lot.

Friday night was a write off as I'd got up at stupid o'clock to see the referendum results, but Saturday morning, after a quick trip to the post office, left me sitting pondering.  My 'to do' pile required thought, which is why it got dropped PDQ, but I noticed Craftsy was having a class sale, so I decided I'd just sit and meander through a class for the rest of the morning instead.

Funnily enough though, I got a spark of inspiration for something to play with when I was perusing the list of classes on sale.  In there was a class for making something along the lines of something I'd Pinned a number of variations on couple of years ago after seeing them in a shop in Provence.  I dusted off my thoughts from back then, plus some things I'd stocked up on awaiting their chance for this pattern to get worked on, opened up that set of Pins and got to sketching/working out a pattern for myself.  It's not that there was anything wrong with the pattern from the class, it was lovely, but to be honest there were so many things that were different from my original inspiration/vision, that just I started from scratch.

Now you'll notice that I carefully avoided mentioning what it is I'm actually making, as it's a pressie for someone in a few weeks and I want it to be a surprise in case they stumble across this, but I thought I'd share some new things I played with:

This took me the best part of 3 hours to get how I had envisaged it.  It looks so innocent, doesn't it?!

The top band is elastic like you would use for baby headbands and things, and then the mesh underneath is the kind you would use in sports tops or something like that.  The idea is to make a pocket that's breathable, but I wanted to be able to put a few dimensional things in without them falling out, but without requiring a zip or other fastener.  I do like to set myself impossible tasks!  The challenge was working out the right length of elastic to cut, and the best way to effectively pleat it, without folding things over so the elastic would work correctly.

Then I had a play with this stuff:

So what I learned with this is that you need to apply it before you cut out your fabric shape if possible, as the shrinkage is quite scary!  Unfortunately I didn't have the 5 yard roll, just the 2 yard one, and only limited amounts of the particular fabric I was using, but I'll know for next time...

After that I moved on to a whole other kind of vinyl, and started trying to create some see through pouch fronts:

No pleats:

With pleats:

Hard to believe between all the thinking, pattern making, cutting and fusing that the above is about 90% of what I have to show for the weekend, but I'm glad I conquered a few new things :o)

Stitch Gathering Roundup

I'm sorry, I know it's been almost a full week since the Stitch Gathering, organised by the fabulous Jo Avery and her merry band, but I really did want to give it a roundup, even if lack of a replacement broadband router until last night meant it was a little delayed!

Once again Jo rounded up a marvelous selection of goodies, presented in this gorgeously soft needlecord Liberty bag:

What a collection of contents!

Our sponsors provided the following:

  1. Thread from Aurifil
  2. Biscuits from Nairns
  3. Frixion pen from Pilot
  4. Millward needles and Coats thread from Coats
  5. FQ from Dashwood
  6. Magazine from Love Patchwork & Quilting (Editor Jenny even came out to play at the event!)
  7. Embroidery thread from DMC
  8. Liberty lawn scrap pack from Very Berry Fabrics
  9. Embroidery scissors from Groves & Banks
  10. Tote bag and FQ from Liberty
  11. 2 Christmas Cori Dantini panels from Blend (it was worth it for this alone, I LOVE Cori Dantini's fabrics!)
  12. 5 FQ bundle from Robert Kaufman
  13. Perle cotton and beads from My Bearpaw

Then I got this panel of quilt labels in the lucky dip.  Think there's any chance I'll start labelling things now?!

At lunchtime we all got to vote on our favourite 'ticket bags' from the secret swap, and then we were allowed to hand them over to their recipients.

The poor lady that made mine was very nervous as she's a beginner, and found out just before the swap that I was teaching the tote class that afternoon, however I think she did a lovely job getting that block on the front, and she had a great idea for a crossover pocket on the back, ideal for a paper or a brolly or something:

I did feel, having seen the amazing creations that others had done, that perhaps I hadn't done quite enough on mine, as the only bit I did, other than the front, was to line it.  Thankfully the lovely Claire who received it didn't seem to mind!

I believe Jo will shortly be doing a round up post of all the bags, so I shall be sure to point you to it when it appears, because there was some truly amazing work in there.

Unfortunately I didn't take a single photo in the class I was teaching as I was running laps round the tables, but trust me when I say everyone did a great job :o)

Now I have rather a lot of reading to catch up on, I may be some time...