To Enter or Not To Enter, that is the question...

What on earth am I talking about?!  Well recently it was the Festival of Quilts in the UK.  I absolutely love going to it every year.  But it can be extremely overwhelming.  This year was no exception, in fact it was even bigger than previous years!  

The main draw for me, has to be the quilts themselves.  I mean it's nice to shop too, but it's the quilts I go to look at!

It's always such an inspiring event.  The quilts are completely AMAZING!  It's a very grounding experience and I ALWAYS leave thinking of how I want to improve my own work and skills.  It inspires you to 'Up your game'!

This year I entered two quilts.  One had been in Quilt Now Magazine last year and the other one was my Breaking Point Quilt.  From previous experience, I knew when entering that there would be many quilts way better than mine but did it put me off from entering? No of course not.  I wasn't entering to win, I was entering to share the quilts.

I spoke to lots of people whilst there and before and after about entering a quilt, and so many people were put off entering as they feared the judges comments or that people would think their quilt not good enough.  I think that is such a shame.  A quote springs to mind:

"Use what talent you possess - the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the birds that sang the best"

We are all at different stages along the journey of learning and improving, does that mean that only the best or most confident can share their work.  Of course not.  So I encourage you to enter your quilts into exhibitions so that people can see your lovely hard work.  I guarantee you you will benefit so much from seeing your quilt hung in an exhibition.  And you'll also get encouragement from people who view the quilts and also from the judges.  Most comments I've had from judges have been very positive. 

I did have a bit of a giggle at the feedback from the judges on my Breaking Point Quilt as it just goes to show how very subjective the judging is as in the category of 'Originality' one judge ticked Excellent, another Good and the other one Satisfactory lol.  So you kind of have to take it all with a pinch of salt.  Given that I drew the star shape from an idea in my head and then drafted foundation paper piecing patterns in EQ8 I'd have to say it really is original lol!  But all of these comments help you improve and 'up your game' for next time.  

So should you enter? Definitely! Will I keep on entering? Yes as long as I have time!!!

Rainbow Hoops - Quilt Now

There seems to be a bit of a rainbow theme going on here!!! Here is the latest project I made for Quilt Now Magazine.  These two Hoop Art pieces use the latest Sun Print fabric range from Alison Glass (Sun Prints 2018).

Photo credits to Quilt Now

Photo credits to Quilt Now

The first one features hexies that have been hand sewn together using the English Paper Piecing technique.  I hate hand sewing with a passion but I love how this turned out!!  I have machine sewn Quilters Gonna Quilt on with a walking foot.  I've added some echo quilting around some of the hexies in silver thread.

Rainbow Hoop Art Sewing Room Decor Jo Westfoot

The second one is foundation paper pieced using a simple pattern I designed.  This one says Sewists Gonna Sew.

Rainbow Hoop Art Jo Westfoot Sewist Gonna Sew

The background of both white sections I have just added some loopy free motion quilting.

Rainbow Ribbons Quilt - Love Patchwork & Quilting Issue 64

It's always exciting to see my designs in magazines.  And this one was no exception!  My Rainbow Ribbons quilt is in Issue 64 of Love Patchwork & Quilting.

Photo courtesy of Love Patchwork & Quilting

Photo courtesy of Love Patchwork & Quilting

I thought you might want to see some extra pictures of it taken in my back garden!

Rainbow Ribbons Quilt By Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

I just love this range of fabric designed by Shayla Wolf of Sassafras Lane for Windham Fabrics.  The range is called Foundation and there is a perfect rainbow spectrum available.  I used it for my Create Every Day Mini Quilt.

Rainbow Ribbons Quilt By Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

I love how this one makes it look like a cityscape view!

Rainbow Ribbons Quilt By Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

A close up of some of the free motion wavy quilting lines.  I switched colours to match the fabrics.

Rainbow Ribbons Quilt By Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

In the sunlight!

Rainbow Ribbons Quilt By Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad
Rainbow Ribbons Quilt By Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

Quilting Disasters: Have you had one?

I reckon everyone must have had some sort of disaster at some point when making something, right?

Breaking Point Quilt by The Crafty Nomad

So in my last post I mentioned that I'd had a disaster whilst making my Breaking Point quilt.  It was so ironic as one of the words I had sewn into the quilt was 'Despair', and let me tell you I really was despairing!!!  I think I actually had three disasters with this quilt!

So the story goes like this.... I foundation paper pieced each of the blocks, each one must have taken me at least 5 hours! I then pieced the quilt top.  Went to iron out the big bolt crease down the centre.  Sprayed it with water and ironed, took the iron away and was HORRIFIED to see brown marks!!  DISASTER 1! I am ashamed to say that my ironing board was filthy and the dirt had transferred onto the wet parts of the fabric.  I ran to the sink and washed it.  Most of it came out, a little bit remained but I figured as I was planning to applique, I would just make sure the appliques covered the remaining little bits.  I REALLY didn't have time to order more background fabric, I was running WAY too behind schedule to even consider that option!

See the little brown spots?

See the little brown spots?

So I continued on, basting and quilting the lines radiating out from the 'Broken' block.  I then filled in alternating sections with free motion meander.  At this point I decided that appliqued speech bubbles didn't suit the style.  So instead I decided to stitch the words and phrases on with my sewing machine alphabet stitch.  So I programmed the words and phrases into the sewing machine, and started to sew the words.  DISASTER 2! The words would not space properly and were bunching up.  Let me tell you unpicking tiny stitches is really hard! (I'm sure you know that already though, right!?)  Then I realised I had forgotten to stabilise the fabric.  So I decided to use a fab product that SULKY® had sent me: Sticky Fabri-Solvy.  This product was brilliant, I cut strips of it roughly the size of the words and phrased and stuck it to the back of the quilt.  Then sewed the words and phrases on.  No more stitch bunching!

So at this point I was feeling pretty pleased to have averted two disasters.  I went to bed very late, thinking that in the morning I would just rinse the stabiliser away, square up and bind the quilt!

So woke up early and started to rinse the Sticky Fabri-Solvy out.  That came out fine by the way....but as the quilt got wet I was HORRIFIED again to see that the stains were reappearing. right. before. my. eyes! DISASTER 3!  I was in bits! All that work, All those hours!!  I scrubbed at the stains but they just weren't budging!  I sat, and actually cried! And then laughed bitterly at the irony!!!  This quilt seemed to be pushing me to another Breaking Point!

Send Help! More random brown patches!

Send Help! More random brown patches!

I decided I had two options: Withdraw the quilt from the competition; or stick the quilt in the machine with a million stain removers and hope for the best.  I really didn't want to withdraw the quilt.  But I also knew that by washing it, it would totally change the quilt.  The fabric would shrink and crinkle, not the look I was going for for a competition quilt! And I ran the risk of the colour running.  But really what option did I have? So I chucked it in the machine and hoped for the best!

Ugh extreme close up of brown spots!!!

Ugh extreme close up of brown spots!!!

When it came out of the wash, it had indeed shrunk as expected.  The colours had not run but instead you could see that underneath the white fabric at the seams, the coloured fabric had frayed meaning you could now see some of that showing through the white fabric.  This did lessen somewhat when the quilt dried!

Break Point Quilt Disaster The Crafty Nomad

And what of the stain? Well it had lessened, to the point where I wasn't sure if I could see it still or not! So in the end I got a friend around to look!  We decided it was barely noticeable once it had dried, helped by the fact that the background fabric was two tone anyway!

The Crafty Nomad Breaking Point Quilt

Bizarrely another odd mark (Pink) had appeared after washing which I am positive wasn't there beforehand! 

Breaking Point Quilt Stain The Crafty Nomad

So with a lot of trepidation I decided to enter it anyway and pray no-one noticed!!!  I don't think anyone did!!!!

Breaking Point Quilt - Creativity for Well-being

Today I'm sharing a quilt with you that hopefully made it safely to Festival of Quilts and should be on display there.  I wanted to share with you the story behind the quilt.

The Crafty Nomad - Jo Westfoot - Breaking Point - Let's Talk Quilt

I listen to Podcasts whilst out on my daily run or walk.  Most of them are quilting related.  On a sunny day back in April I happened to be listening to episode 131 of the Crafty Planner Podcast. Sandi was interviewing Kathryn Clark.  I was fascinated by the depth of the subject matters that Kathryn quilted about.  Up until now my quilts have all just been about aesthetic, shapes that I like the look of etc.  But Kathryn was quilting about really meaty political subjects: bank foreclosure; immigration; Russia.  I loved that idea. So it got me thinking.

At the time I'd also been working on material for a talk I now give at Quilt groups all about how creativity, and quilting in particular, helps our mental health and well-being.  So I married the two up and decided to make a quilt on the topic of mental health.  By the time I got home from my run I already had the bare bones of the design in my head! So hurriedly set about drawing it out! 

Creativity for Wellbeing Quilt by Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

The finished quilt is a little different to how I initially had it in my head, it kind of evolved as I made it, but the main blocks were exactly how I had pictured them from the beginning!

I wanted the quilt to depict that moment when you snap, the lead up to it and then the healing process that follows.  So it contains four blocks which each represent one of those stages.  The blocks are foundation paper pieced from a pattern I designed using EQ8.  The quilting symbolises the breaking point, like an explosion.  Along those quilted lines are words that represent the feelings at each stage of the process.  In my initial plans these words were to be stitched onto speech bubbles appliqued onto the quilt.  Because we really need to talk more to help us heal.  But that really didn't suit the style of the quilt in the end.  So instead I stitched the words along the lines.

Breaking POint Let's Talk Quilt by Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

I chose to use Alison Glass Sun Print 18 fabric for the blocks as a) I love it! and b) it had three depths of tone to each colourway.  I had originally planned to use plain white as the background, but changed this to use a low volume text print by Moda.  This was to represent the fact that in the background of life, the regular noise of life carries on as normal whilst you are in the midst of your own personal crisis!

So the first block represents the process of Breaking, when things are starting to get out of your control.  The colours are subdued dark rainbow as your colours are starting to fade.  There are gaps appearing where you are starting to break.  The red sections show pain.

Breaking Point Block Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

The second block represents being Broken, the moment of exploding, when there is only pain and emptiness: you are completely lost and have no control over your life.  Here there is only red fabric and gaps.

Broken Block Breaking Point Quilt Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

The third block represents the Healing process.  Here you can see the rainbow colours are a mix of dark and mid tones showing that you are starting to lighten.  The gaps are now filled with low volume rainbow colours representing the healing process.  There is still plenty of pain though represented by the red fabric.

Healing Block - Breaking Point Quilt - Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

The fourth block represents being Healed.  The colours are lighter and brighter.  There are a small number of red and low volume rainbow areas remaining, showing that the experience becomes part of the new version of ourselves, allowing us to have more empathy in life.  The low volume areas I think really embodies one of the quotes stitched in to the quilt: "The wound is where the light shines through".

Healed Block - Breaking Point Quilt - Jo Westfoot - The Crafty Nomad

I love how this quilt turned out but I already have plans to make an adapted version!  There was a real moment of 'despair' when making this quilt and I'll share about that next week, but it was just so ironic as that word is stitched in. Let's just say it almost didn't get sent to Festival of Quilts!

I would love to know how quilting has helped your mental health and well being, let me know in the comments.

Rainbow Revamp of Apples & Pears Quilt

So I was playing around last week with my design software and decided to recolour the Apples & Pears quilt into the rainbow colour way instead.  

Apples and Pears Quilt Pattern

Apples and Pears Quilt Pattern

So what do you think? I totally love it!!  I’m thinking of rewriting the pattern to include this colour way.  

This is the existing one which I love to for it’s modern feminine vibe. 


You can get the existing pattern here 

Just Wanna Quilt Podcast

So a couple of months ago I became aware of a group of people working on the issue of copyright within the quilting world.  I'm always interested in this area.  Elizabeth Townsend Gard is a law professor working out of Tulane Law School in New Orleans and is heading up the project.  They call it Just Wanna Quilt.  You can read more about it on their website, Facebook Page or why not join their Facebook group!

As part of this project Elizabeth is interviewing all sorts of people from the quilting world.  And she interviewed little old me! LOL!

So if you want to hear about my journey into the quilting world you can do so here.  If it hadn't been for the lucky stroke that I ended up living next door to Lorraine during our first assignment to Australia, I know it would have been unlikely I would ever have found my way to the quilting world!  Lorraine started off as my neighbour and became one of my Aussie besties!  We started off making cards together as that is her other passion.  But as I started sewing again she was willing me to make a quilt!  I resisted due to the time investment, I much preferred to get an item finished in a few hours!  But eventually I did, and the rest, as they say, is history lol!  It's always the people you meet that have such an impact on your life and the directions you may go in.  I've loved the fact that we have lived in different places and have been able to meet lots of different people!

There are lots of other fascinating interviews on there too so be sure to check them out. 

Lately I've been listening to quilty podcasts as I go out for my run!  Some of my other favourites are: Abby Glassenberg; and Crafty Planner.

One Way or Another...

I'm excited to share my latest quilt pattern is published in the latest issue of Quilt Now1  I totally love this one!  Most of my designs start life on a tiny post note! And this one was no different!  Sat at the kitchen table and idea pops into my head I reach for the nearest scrap of paper and pen and start sketching.  Introducing my arrow quilt: One Way or Another. With matching cushion.  It's a got a very modern look about it.  Reminds me a bit of road signs.  My daughter says its like the recycling motif! But isn't that three arrows?

One Way or Another Quilt Pattern by Jo Westfoot for Quilt Now - Photo courtesy of Quilt Now

One Way or Another Quilt Pattern by Jo Westfoot for Quilt Now - Photo courtesy of Quilt Now

I think it would be perfect unisex quilt but I did think when making it that it would probably suit boys a bit better!  But i guess it just depends what fabric you use.

One Way or Another Quilt by Jo Westfoot The Crafty Nomad

I used a variety of colours from the Twist range by Dashwood Studio.  I used Stitch It 80/20 wadding from Empress Mills

I kept the quilting really simple and went for straight diagonal lines.

The Guilt of Using Single Use Plastic

Is the message starting to sink in with you too?  I have been looking for ways to cut the use of single use plastic in our home.  One thing that has been bugging me for ages in that I use a Ziploc bag every time I bake a loaf of bread, which is quite frequently as we don't eat regular shop bought bread!  

So I decided to track down some food safe waterproof lining fabric and make a drawstring bag for the purpose instead.  That way I can just chuck it in the wash when needed! Instead of chucking it in the bin and reaching for another bag!

Drawstring Bag Sewing Tutorial The Crafty Nomad.png

I was lucky to find some kitchen themed fabric that matched in with some of my kitchen's colours!  I think it's an old Andover fabric.

I've written this up as a tutorial that I'm sending out as an exclusive gift to all my lovely email subscribers!! So if you want to get your hands on it you can sign up HERE.

Union Jack Table Runner

I'm super excited about my latest project!!! Being British, and I think given that for 10 years I was an expat, I have a bit of a thing for all things British! I even have a Pinterest board for it!  I've made a few British themed things before, a Union Jack cushion for my sister, an appliqued telephone box phone cover, a London Bus bobbin brooch, an applique post box notebook cover, applique Union Jack t-shirt.....etc.

This time I decided to make a table runner.  Featuring foundation paper pieced union jacks, with relevant appliques in the centre.  I was inspired by the upcoming Royal Wedding.  At one point I almost added a US flag too, but then the Union flag won me over, sorry American readers, I know Meghan is American but hey ho!

I've chosen fairly small ditsy prints that are non-directional as these work best.

The pattern will go out to all my VIP Club members early next week and will then be available for purchase on the 10th April 2018.  Plenty of time to get it made up in time for all those street parties and garden parties.  Dress your table in style.  It even comes with the added bonus of instructions to make up matching placemats!

You can buy the pattern HERE.