designer challenge

Nel Whatmore designer challenge – Elisabeth

This is the last of our designer challenge projects made with Nel’s new line, Katharine’s Wheel for Free Spirit fabrics.
We really hope you have enjoyed the finished blocks and projects as much as we have and that you are inspired to go out and buy some Katharine’s Wheel for yourself!

Today’s post is from Elisabeth, let’s see what Elisabeth has come up with….

I fell in love with Nel Whatmore’s new line Katharine’s Wheel the second I saw it on the Fat Quarterly Blog and was incredibly happy when I was chosen for the Designer Challenge. As soon as I had the fabric in my hands I realised that none of the ideas floating about in my head were quite right as the big, bold flowery designs would lose some of their charm if I cut them up into small pieces. Thinking of the Catharine Wheel fireworks I drew some lines coming out from a centre circle but then decided to go for a curvy spiral instead to really showcase the gorgeous fabric. A few versions later I ended up with two cardboard templates that I used to cut out the eight sections, four of each.

I sewed them into quarters first, then halves and then the two halves together, making sure the points all met.
After I finished the first block I decided the stripy fabric stopped the flow and made a second one.

I then decided to pair those two blocks with some green Kona (I don’t remember what colour it is) and turn them into a bag.

Stripy handles and a stripy pocket to keep keys or a mobile phone within easy reach.

Finally a bit of the selvedge to remind me of the challenge.

Thank you so much for letting me work with these fabulous fabrics, I’ve loved working on this challenge and hope I fulfilled the brief.

We definitely think you fulfilled the brief, Elisabeth – that bag is gorgeous!!!!

Nel Whatmore designer challenge – Reene

Firework Pillow
by Reene Witchard

pillow by Reene

I was delighted to get the chance to design a project using Nel Whatmore’s new range, Katharine’s wheel. The brief was to design something with a firework theme, so after about 10 seconds brain storming I got to work. I went with my usual ‘go-to-project’ and created a pillow. To be clear on this, I mean pillow as in the thing that you lay your head on to sleep at night rather than a poofy thing you throw on the sofa.

The colours that Nel has used in this range are really vivid so I paired them with a deep purple solid as I felt they could hold their own against that backdrop. The pillow top comprises 2 Katharine wheel inspired blocks, one English paper pieced (EPP) and the other raw-edge appliquéd.

For the EPP firework I drew an octagon with equal length sides and cut Dresden blades to fit the sides of the octagon. Once the fabrics were basted to the paper shapes I hand sewed the blades to the octagon. I removed the papers before machine sewing the finished firework to the purple solid.

pillow by Reene

For the raw-edge appliqué firework I drew a simple curved blade template which I traced around onto double sided fusible web. I fussy-cut a central circle from one of the fabulous prints and used the other fabrics for the blades. Arranged on the solid in a pleasing manner around the central circle the blades make up the Katherine wheel.

pillow by Reene

Once the fireworks were fixed to the solid I backed the top with batting and hand quilted with large straight stitches in complementary perle threads.

Pillow by Reene

I used the purple spot print and more of the purple solid to make the envelope for the back of the pillow.

pillow by Reene

Hey presto, a finished firework pillow. It’s a really quick and simple project to run up.
A huge thank you to Reene for this fabulous tutorial and gorgeous pillow.
Nel’s fabric line, Katharine’s Wheel, for Free Spirit is coming soon! Visit Nel’s new website at Nel’s Patterns for more details on Nel’s fabrics and designs!

Nel Whatmore designer challenge – Rosanne

For our second day of Nel Whatmore’s designer challenge we welcome Rosanne from the UK to the blog.

Rosanne made 2 different blocks using Nel Whatmore fabrics

Rosanne says;

‘The sunburst is from the centre of the California Dreamin’ free design from Free Spirit  All I’ve done is substitute royal blue Klona  as the contrast colours for the prints to allow them to sparkle.  Once finished, the ray section has the centre fabric appliqued to it and then again appliqued to the ground.  The nice thing about this block that it is very versatile. In face I think it would be a fairly simple project to remake the quilt with this range plus a solid.  Also you could embellish this design, either with embroidery or beads or both.  As it is, there is a Swarovski bicone at the top of the points which really sparkle in the sunlight’.

‘The second is a Pyramid of Pinwheels.  This reminds me of those huge public displays on Bonfire Night where everything is overdone. More rockets, more Roman Candles, more ooh’s and aah’s.

Why Royal Blue instead of navy?  Because all of the navy blues I saw were too dull for this project. They were very flat in colour with no life to them.  I wanted a vibrant night sky to set off these beautiful fabrics.  I had in mind a colour of Gloriana Silk Thread I have called Velvet Night Sky—Velvet-Night-Sky-Gloriana-Silk-Floss__GLN-GOS023.aspx

Many thanks to Rosanne for her 2 beautiful blocks. You can visit Rosanne’s blog at

Nel Whatmore will be showcasing her latest fabric collection at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham this week from Thursday until Sunday on the Cotton Patch stand. Stop by and say hello if you are there! And visit Nel’s new website for more details on her work!

Nel Whatmore designer challenge – Rachel

Hi, my name Rachel and I blog at House of Pinheiro {}

Recently, I received a beautiful bundle of purples and pinks fat quarters and was asked to make something inspired by fireworks and circles as part of Fat Quarterly designers challenge. The fabric selection is from British designer Nel Whatmore.

As part of my birthday gifts, I was given a day quilt workshop on my local quilting shop, called Hometown, to learn “Crown Quilts”.

I’m not just a quilter, actually I only have made one finished quilt.I use a lot patchwork techniques thought my work and I divide my creative time by sewing clothes, crafting, knitting and trying new skills.  I always trying new ideas.

It didn’t take long to start mixing and matching the patterns. Because the main clock needed a pair number of colours, I separated by light, medium/dark purples and used in alternation. On the centre I decided to pair light/dark together instead of alternating because the purples reminded of moonlight and I wanted to do like moon phases!

This block use sewn lightweight Vilene. Instead of working on a mini quilt, I thought an envelope cushion would make it really special.

I didn’t want the back design to fight with the front design so I just cut different strips. That also would hide the envelope closure. Haaa! I feel clever sometimes LOL!

The fabric is so cheery and inspired me to try an appliqué. Instead of using one from the internet, I drawn this cute bird. Appliqués are a great way to use the scraps left! It feels good not wasting fabrics… specially if the colours are so high energy.

Thank you, for the chance in taking part on the challenge.

If you liked my work, don’t be a stranger… talk to me on twitter @houseOFpinheiro

Stay Stitching…


Nel will at the Festival of Quilts this week from Thursday through Sunday on the Cotton Patch Stand! Be sure to drop by and say hi to her if you’re going! And visit Nel’s new website for more details of her work!

Nel Whatmore

Nel is a UK designer for Free Spirit, and

a fine artist. Katharine’s Wheel is her next collection – coming soon!

Nel Whatmore

After chatting with Nel we thought it’d be fun to have a more structured designer challenge using the purple and pink colourway of her new fabric and using the theme Katharine Wheel – so let’s have spirals, circles, spinning tops. You know the kind of thing, you lot are all awesome.

Here’s the second part of the deal. Because this is a UK designer, and just for a little change we’re asking for 4 UK based blog readers to take part in the challenge. We will send you a set of FQs, and you create something beautiful using the fabrics sent and the theme ‘Katharine Wheel’

Leave a comment on this post for a chance (until July 1st when we’ll randomly pick 4 people)

UK only – sorry international peeps, promise you’ll get a new challenge opportunity soon!


the retreat special

retreat special

If you wish you had gone to the retreat why not treat yourself to the next best thing?

Our retreat special issue is out now, and only $5. It’s packed full of projects, many of which were taught over the weekend, as well as additional bonus patterns and features! Find it here.

Amy has offered up the amazing pillow (pictured below) she made from Thomas Knauer’s Flock fabric as a giveaway. Her pillow is featured in the designer challenge from this issue, and you could win it!

Leave a (single) comment on this post for your chance!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED – the winner is (drum roll….) Lisa at Cottage Nest congrats Lisa – look out for an email from us!

Flock Fat Quarterly Designer Challenger

what Katy (& Lynne) did next

You may remember I went to visit Liberty the other week and saw how the design process regarding the new lifestyle cottons happens. Whilst I was there I was given some samples of fabric for us to play with. I was eager to see how the prints looked made into something other than a lovely pile of fabrics.

Lynne and I had a play and this was what we came up….

Lynne’s union jack pillow

and my constellation pillow

liberty constellation

You can read more on both Lynne’s and my blogs.

Designer Challenge – the Quick Curve Ruler

Hi, m name is Miriam Blaich and I blog at Berlinquilter.  I was thrilled when Lynne asked  if I would like to play with Jenny’s Quick Curve Ruler from Sew Kind of Wonderful. I had seen some fabulous Quilts and other projects on flickr and blogs and definitely wanted to give it a try.

After some playing around, I came up with a curved nine patch block. Three curved fabric pieces, sewn together, cut  in three stripes, mixed and sewn together again.  Afterwards I put together 9 of these curved nine patches, added a border on the top and bottom, and voila, here is my pillow. I think this also would also work well if you did a scrappy pillow or even a whole quilt.

Sewing these soft curves was easy and somehow relaxing. Allthough I didn’t use pins, the curved pieces came together very smoothly.

Jenny also makes these vintage looking blocks with her ruler, I have to try them soon.  For the pillow I used two prints from Joel Dewberrys Heirloom Collection and a fantastic aqua toned Linen, which I bought locally.  If you ever try this ruler you can be sure that it is a lot of fun!

Quilt Blocks (day 8) Ruth

Ruth from Cherry Coloured Twist is UK crafter and quilter whose work I am often found admiring. Her project for the Quilt Blocks challenge is no exception – I think you’ll agree, it’s a fantastic use of the fabrics and would be the kind of gift I’d go ga-ga for!!!

Over to you, Ruth….

Photo 1

When Katy offered the chance to play with some brand-spanking-new fabric I just couldn’t resist.
Two colour-popping fat quarters of ‘Quilt Blocks’ by Ellen Luckett Baker were delivered a couple of weeks later. The colours and shapes made me think of a fairground – ferris wheels and helter skelters, and I knew immediately that I wanted to make something playful.
I had seen the Check it! tutorial on Rashida’s blog a long long time ago, and knew it would be the perfect project for ‘Quilt Blocks’.
I decided on a klona solid (copen) to add into the mix, and got to work!

Photo 2

Such a quick and easy tutorial. A quick squirt of basting spray here and there, some straight line quilting and a bit of binding.
To make the pouch – some lightweight interfacing, a very simply sewn zip, and a length of cording sewn into the seam. What could be easier?

Photo 4

For the checkers – covered buttons – so simple but so clever!

Photo 5

This is definitely a tutorial I’ll be using again for last minute birthday presents – and it goes without saying that I can’t wait for the whole Quilt Blocks range to hit the shops. I have a feeling I’ll be sewing with it again!

Photo 6

Thanks Katy, for letting me play along!

Quilt Blocks – (day 7) Denise, out of my head studio

Yesterday we welcomed Miranda from Out Of My Head Studio to the blog with her tutorial for the Miss Betty bag.

Today we have Miranda’s Mom, Denise, as she talks us through the process of making her very own design, the Josie bag. (Denise hopes to have patterns available for both bags on the website soon)

The Josie Bag!

Several weeks ago my daughter Miranda told me she had been accepted to receive designer fabric for a project of her choice.  Since the fabric was coming from the UK it did take a little time to arrive but when it did we were quite excited.  She wanted me to use one of the fabrics for something totally different than her.  She chose the triangle fabric and left me the circular one.   I had designed a Miss Betty bag a couple of years ago and wanted to hi-lite that but alas my fabric would not do.  Those circles were just too close to use them as centers for the grommets.  She decided to use her fabric for the Miss Betty Bag so I was left to design a new bag.

While working on another project I was using some scraps of fabric and my Go Cutter to make flowers.  Seeing how they would look in the center of the circle almost made it seem that I had designed another fabric.  There were so many wonderful colors in the base fabric that I could choose just about anything to stick in the center and it would match.   Next – an alternate fabric for the lining and sides.  Miranda loved the teal as did I so we decided to use that for the outside gusset and handles.  Lining, left overs from another project but again, coordinating quite well with the base fabric.  I love a lot of pockets in my bags so things don’t get lost in the bottom.  It’s always a must for me.  A handy place for my Tylenol, I-Phone, business cards and keys.

I am teaching myself to machine quilt so first thing was to do an all over design.  Once done the fabric and batting was still too soft.  Add the flowers to the centers, with a hand button-hole stitch then layer another piece of batting and quilt around the flowers to make them pop.  Now I was ready to design the bag!

Getting ready to quilt.

Machine quilting the lining.  Looks like Cinnamon Buns!

Adding the flower to center

Another layer of batting and more free motion quilting

Back of fabric.

Next the pattern design

Cut freezer paper  10×14

Use kitchen items to round off bottom corners

Mark your center line. Center and cut the fabric


The pieces after they were cut.

Interior pockets

Cut 2 14×10.5 folded  in half with batting inside. Stitch separations. Trim even with bag lining.

Measure the lining for the gusset

If you screw up, better on the lining than the fabric you can’t replace!

Lining done.

Now to measure and repeat the process for the outer bag.

Make outer bag as you did the lining.

Grommets in my stash are not Silver which is what I wanted.  Martha Stewart paint to the rescue!

Trace the area for placement, baste through all layers including lining so all with match up and not slip.

Cut through all layers – including lining

Attach grommets, I needed help for this as the thickness was too hard for me to press through.

(Thanks to my DH – Mark!)

Handles are cut 3.5 and folded over 1.5 in of batting and sewed to make 1.5 in  handles.

Shown also is the binding of the bag, cut at 2.25, double folded and sewn to hold lining and outer bag together.  Hand sewn in place on the interior of the bag.

Front tab with magnet and a bit of steam punk to hi-light the circles

Magnetic Snap Closure

Back of bag – just as charming as the front.

And now the finished product – Miss Josie’s Bag!

That was a fantastic journey through Denise’s design process, a huge thank you for sharing with us, Denise and to Miranda for yesterday’s tutorial . Be sure to visit both Denise and Miranda at Out of My Head Studio, where they are joined by the rest of their creative family, Denise’s husband Mark and son Nicholas.

We are coming towards the end of our journey now, with only 2 more designer challenges to share. Has this got your thinking hats on? What can you make with just a couple of fat quarters?

Quilt Blocks by Ellen Luckett Baker, for Moda fabrics is out in April, and will be available from Fat Quarter Shop as well as many other stores (we will keep you posted on who has it and when!)