Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Giveaway

Christmas is a time for giving (and for some, shameless self-promotion!) so I'm hosting a little festive Giveaway from today through to December 10th.

To celebrate the opening of my Folksy Shop

Find Me On Folksy

I'm giving away this stocking full of Lazy Crafternoons goodies.

The rules are simple all you have to do is follow me on instagram (ChrisMakesThings) or Twitter (@ChrisWhoMakes) and share your holiday spirit with me any way you like using #LCXmasGiveaway

Repost and Retweet the image above, show me what you are making or tell me what is on the top of your Christmas list this year!

A winner will be drawn at 7pm GMT on December 10th - enter as many times as you like! I'll do my best to ship to my winner no matter where you live, but if you live in a place that hates contests or you are so far you may not receive your post by Christmas then please only enter if you are patient!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Back to London

After many years away, the call of London proved too strong and at the start of October we found ourselves picking up our sticks and moving back to the big smoke. I had a wonderful three years in Bristol, and will always love Bristol as my first home-across-the-pond, but when the right opportunities presented themselves we decided it was time for us to do London again.

It's a very strange feeling to leave somewhere that feels like home and return to another place that was once home. This move was both a departure and a homecoming.

In the spirit of London life which is as hustling, bustling and busy as I remember it, I'm posting an efficiently quick and easy update to the blog. Now I know instagram photos do not a blog post make, but I thought it would be a nice and easy way to catch up on things to share what I've been up to and encourage readers to follow me on instagram.

Just a few shots from my first month back in town.

A photo posted by Chris Webb (@chrismakesthings) on
A photo posted by Chris Webb (@chrismakesthings) on
A photo posted by Chris Webb (@chrismakesthings) on
A photo posted by Chris Webb (@chrismakesthings) on

In reality, not much has changed in London. It's still the same place and it still excites and exhausts me in the same old ways... the one thing that's changed in the six years I've been away is the rise of apps and their impact on the efficiency of urban life. We can document our lives through apps, find places to eat, find things to do, book taxis and generally explore the city with more efficiency and less need to speak to the people around us than ever - how strange and (and in odd way) wonderfully London.

More updates to come soon, with lots of new things to share and changes coming to my world of crafternoons.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Written in the stars - Part 2

Now the time has come for the big reveal of my "Written in the Stars" quilt which I posted about last week. It was such a challenging project for me because it brought in some new techniques that I had probably not practiced or mastered enough to start working with! I went from practising one basic new york beauty block, to drawing my own and adapting it to place one of my stars in the middle.

Starting the New York Beauty inspired block

To make matters more complicated I also decided that I wanted inset the block into the piano-key border I set out around the edge of the quilt... and I just about managed it. Sewing with curves in Patchwork is not that new to me, but what I've never done is quilted a patchwork with curves in it.  It was not too much of a struggle to get the patchwork together, but as I quilted through this block the fabric behaved in all kinds of strange ways I'd never expected... pulling and stretching in odd places, and resulting in much unpicking.

New York Beauty with inset start and inset into border of the quilt.

With a few cheats, I just about managed it but I will have to be more patient with curves the next time I tackle them.

I quilted using tight parallel straight lines running across the quilt and tracing some of the stars, and then filled the remaining space with randomly angled intersecting lines.  Not my neatest quilting job, but I was happy with the overall effect.

And for the finished product? My hope is that you'll be inspired by the quilt, but forgive my photo composition! Sadly, I live in a small urban flat and don't have fields of wheat or rolling green hills to use as a backdrop for my quilts: Instead you get a crowded floor space between an ikea desk and a laundry rack and my very dingy garden!

But here it is:

And my wonderful friend (of 10 years now!) showing it off her gift.  Not the greatest photo, but I hope it shows off the overall look. The lighting makes the puckering look a bit worse than it was, but it does at least show off the mix of textures between the tight straight line quilting and the more random lines that run through the rest of the quilt. Plus the smile on her face is the most important thing to me!

Excited to see what the next 10 years brings our way!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Written in the stars - Part 1

In follow up to my always secret crafting post the "big reveal" on my most recent project has now come and gone, but because I haven't had a chance to blog-as-I-quilt, I thought I'd just post a little teaser with the online reveal to follow shortly.  So this will be part one of a two-part-post - I promise not to drag it on too long! Remember: good things come to those who wait.

The gift quilt I've been working on came about as a way to celebrate a 10-year "friendiversary"with one of my best pals.  We met at uni when fate rolled the dice and we ended up working in offices next to one another and we became friends in July 2004 when, barely knowing each other, we ended up travelling to and sharing a tent at Hillside Music Festival in Guelph, Canada.

This first friendezvous came about somewhat unplanned, and we awkwardly shared a tent and shivered through the weekend's unexpectedly cold nights, while enjoying food, good music, and a few workshops each day. The rest was written in the stars.

Nine months later we moved to different cities and have never since lived in the same place (or for that matter the same country). Despite this distance we've sustained the friendship, via emails, skype, visits and meeting up in a host of amazing places. So as our 10 year friendiversary approached, I knew I had to find a way to mark the occasion!

Thinking about the theme of "written in the stars" I knew I wanted to create a constellation themed quilt using paper pieced stars and an adapted new york beauty block. I wanted to weave in lots of hidden stories and themes related to our friendship, but I struggled with finding a way to tell the story through the quilt so despite starting work on it with this initial star block in March 2012, the project sat on the back burner until I had my lightbulb moment earlier this year.

My first attempt at a star block.
The slow and sluggish thought process that went on over two years on the back-burner of my mind went something like this:

I love the star and definitely want to work with stars...
... but what can I do with stars, how can I arrange them?
Hmmm.. constellations, I could make it a constellation quilt...
... I wonder if there is a constellation of a unicorn? (we share a joke/affirmation about unicorns) *rushes to google*... Oh yes! There is a monoceros constellation...

"Sidney Hall - Urania's Mirror - Monoceros, Canis Minor, and Atelier Typographique" by Sidney Hall
... but what do I do with this now... and how do I work in the rest of the stories... Am I taking on too much? Can I really tell a story in a quilt?... *excited but totally overwhelmed*

Then one day it hit me: I had reached a point where I knew I wanted to lay out the constellation across the main body of the quilt and had chosen Dan Bennett's Premier Lord collection as my fabrics for the stars... but I was struggling to find fabric in the right deep and dark blue tones to form the contrasting background which I wanted to be the sky. I even searched for constellation fabrics, but struggled to find the right balance of dark, muted blues that I wanted.

So I decided to take the plunge and make my own fabrics via Spoonflower! This allowed me to challenge myself to do some design work and get exactly what I wanted, in the right colours, and gave me a way to literally sew the story of our friendship into the fabric of the quilt.

I designed a pattern of constellations inspired by our friendship, the things we love and the places we have been together and had them printed in three different shades of blue. I also used the placement of the stars in this constellation design, to create a secondary connected constellation fabric (now for sale on Spoonflower!) where the stars were all joined together differently to create a geo-metric fabric.

Here are the three main fabrics:

Here I'm piecing my fabrics alongside Dan Bennett's fabrics

Here you can see the supplementary connected constellation fabric bringing in a geo-metric design that breaks up the more graphic designs of the other fabrics.

And here is your sneak-peek taste of the quilt - my first completed star block ready to go into the quilt. 

I was really happy with the contrast of the colours I'd chosen to print my fabrics in and felt that the designs I made and the scale I printed them at worked really well to achieve the look I was going for.  I wanted the stars to stand out against a very blue background, but didn't want that background to be flat or dull... I think these fabrics work just right to give a defined but not lacklustre backdrop for the stars which are the real focus of the quilt.

 Part two is coming soon!