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3 reasons to choose Kona Cotton & how to win a Kona card

3 reasons to choose Kona Cotton &  how to win a Kona card

When I opened The Next Stitch just over 2 years choosing which line of solids to stock was one of the easiest parts of the process.  While my head was swirling with logo proofs and building my website, this was a no-brainer.  

It was only ever going to be Kona cotton solids from Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

So why only Kona cotton?

1. Its a colour thing

kona cotton rainbow
There are just so many to choose from.  Robert Kaufman's Kona cotton range continues to be the largest range of quilting cotton solids available on the market.  There are currently over 340 different shades and we have over 120 of them in stock.  You can check them out here 

The names of Kona solids have become part of the language of modern quilters. Let's face it, if someone mentions 'Pickle', we all know they are talking about this delicious shade of yellow-green.

 

    2. You can't beat Kona cotton for quality

    Have you ever cut into a solid fabric to find it frays easily?  Or held it up to the light to find a horrible loose weave?  If so, you can be certain it wasn't a Kona cotton.

    Kona cotton is soft yet sturdy.  I actually like to mix it up a bit and use different substrates of printed fabrics in my quilts.  Kona is a perfect all rounder.  It is softness and even weave works beautifully with lawn, and its sturdy enough to pair perfectly with heavier fabrics such as linen and canvas.

    The fabric is woven in a similar way to standard cotton sheeting, but with extra thread woven in.  This creates the higher thread count and firmer weave, while  retaining a soft cloth which is easy to stitch.

    2. Kona COTY & 90 free patterns

    For the last three years Robert Kaufman has released a limited edition Kona Cotton Colour of the Year.  2018's colour is a shade of orange called Kona Tiger Lily.

    kona tigerlily in australia

    As you can see, Tiger Lily is deeper than Kona Tangerine (excuse my grotty chip - I spilled my coffee on it), and a similar value to Kona Flame, but not as saturated.

    Each year some of our favourite designers are invited to create a pattern using the colour of the year.   One of my favourites for Tiger Lily was this fun Mushroom quilt designed by Elizabeth Hartman.

    Elizabeth Hartman Mushroom quilt patter

    You can grab a copy of the Mushroom quilt here - its FREE by the way.

    If orange isn't your thing there are over 90 free patterns ranging from uber modern  through to traditional block based designs on the Robert Kaufman website. 

    Exclusive Kona bundles

    With so many colours to choose from it can be a little paralysing so I've pulled together some bundles which are exclusive to The Next Stitch

    You could go for one of our bright and bold Kona Rainbow Bundles , or for something soft and pretty there's our Gelato bundles
    kona rainbow bundles.kona gelato bundle
    We also have a Kona Club which is a great way to build a stash of solids. 

    Its also perfect if receiving regular fabric deliveries makes your heart skip a beat ;-).  
    kona club

    Win a Kona colour card 

    Enter our competition over on Instagram and win yourself and your quilting buddy one of the brand new 340 Kona colour cards valued at $45

     To enter all you need to do is:

    1. Repost using #nextstitchwithkona
    2. Tag a friend you's like us to give a card to
    3. Follow us on Instagram

    The competition is open to Australian  entrants only (sorry to my international followers) and the winners will be announced 8 May.

     

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    Making Elizabeth Hartman's Tony the Turtle blocks

    Making Elizabeth Hartman's Tony the Turtle blocks
    The turtle blocks from Elizabeth Hartman require a little patience but overall are fun to make. Here are all my tips for making Tony the Turtle with successful strip piecing and cross cutting, and accurately making those tiny eye units Continue reading

    Awesome Ocean's Preppy - three tips for making a happy pod

    Awesome Ocean's Preppy - three tips for making a happy pod

    We are well and truly past the half way mark in our Awesome Ocean journey.  Stitching these sweet sea creatures each month is just the right pace.  There is plenty of time for stress- free sewing, but it feels like we are making consistent progress as well.  If you'd like to join in you can sign up here

    I'm a bit partial to whales and here in Hervey Bay we are lucky to have humpback whatels in the Bay for several months a year.  They stop off for a few days rest during their annual migration and its a major part of the tourism industry here.

    So needless to say, I have been looking forward to making Preppy and he didn't disappoint.

    If you just want to make the Preppy quilt these tips will still help.  You can grab a pattern here

    Preppy is the first time we have  been let loose on the fabrics in Group 2 and its nice to finally add these Reef prints into our project.  You can check out all of the fabrics in Elizabeth Hartman's Reef collection here 

    Elizabeth Hartman Reef fabric

    Here are my three tips for making Preppy

    1. Make the most of your fabric

    When cutting your background fabric, don't bother cutting the 1.5" strip as instructed in the pattern.   You can easily cut pieces N and L from the excess left over after cutting your M and O strips.

    2. Be careful with the directional fabric

    There are some large pieces in Preppy, so it will be really obvious if some of those larger scale and directional prints (like the kelp and, seahorse ones)  are running the wrong way.

    My first tip is to have a close look at the diagram Elizabeth Hartman has included at the bottom of page 13.  This will set you up for success.

    Its relatively straightforward to manage directional prints in Preppy's head and body units, but things get a bit trickier when sewing the angled seams for the tail

    I found  I needed to flip the corner of the squares (pieces F and I) back before stitching to double check that I had the print running in the right direction.

    Its sort of the opposite of what you'd expect, but I found that if I had the seahorses heads to the left, like this , then a quick pivot clockwise before stitching worked a treat for me.

    preppy directional fabric1

    3 Cutting the mouth strip down

    This is the first time we have trimmed a rectangle piece back to size after stitching in this project, and it is important to take your time and be as accurate as you can with the mouth.  Any wobbles will really stand out in that Kona Pepper.

    align ruler

    I used both the 1/2 and 1/4 inch marks on my rule to be extra certain my cut was nice and straight..  I lined up the 1/2 inch mark on the stitching line, but before I cut I double checked that 1/4 mark was covering the Pepper folded seam allowance before cutting. 

    Hopefully you can just make it out below.

    Once trimmed there is just one seam to stitch the D rectangle to the bottom and the head unit is sorted. 

    Granted, this strip is narrower than the others we have sewn, but the same principle applies.    Line up the edge of the foot with the row of stitching (with other strips we used the seam allowance) on the left hand side like this. If you have sewn that first seam with an accurate 1/4 inch seam you should notice that your needle is coming down exactly at the edge of the seam allowance.

    Don't focus on that needle going up and down though as it is a sure-fire way to lose track and make a wobble.

    So there you go - another couple of seams to join the head, body and tail and your little pod will be completed.

    Preppy pod

    Next month we will be making Tony the Turtle.  Can't wait!

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    Chuckles cheered me up

    Chuckles cheered me up
    We are getting into the 'swim' of things and Elizabeth Hartman's clown fish Chuckles went together like a dream as we revisited some of the tips and techniques from Angelica, Puffy, Octavian and the Kelp blocks. Continue reading

    Making Elizabeth Hartman's Angelica - the angel fish that fought back

    Making Elizabeth Hartman's Angelica - the angel fish that fought back

    When he was a teenager, my brother kept a beautiful tropical aquarium.  Mysteriously his school of neons began to disappear.  Every day a couple more had gone missing.

    tropcal fish

    One morning I caught the culprit in the act.

    angel fish

    Thats right - the angel fish.  They were quickly banished to another tank.

    Despite her beauty, Elizabeth Hartman's Angelica turned out to be just as fiesty as those aquarium fish and this month I had a number of hiccoughs when making my blocks. 

    Don't freak out.  There's nothing that hard about Angelica; you just need to focus.

    I think part of my problem was that I was tired; distracted ; and coming down with a cold. 

    Angelica certainly let me know that she's one lady-fish who won't be rushed

    Cutting and preparation

    There are a lot of small pieces to Angelica.  I've mentioned this last time when we were making Puffy, but being organised and cutting a few layers at a time will make a huge difference and speed things up. 

    Be careful though, some of these pieces are only 1'" square, so its important to be as accurate as you can

    Making the bubbles

    So we get stuck into those tiny pieces straight away with the bubble section and the eye units.  As well as being as accurate as you can cutting those 1" squares, you will need to make sure that you have an accurate seam allowance for these teensy tiny pieces.

    My machine has a habit of chewing up small pieces so I used a leader, which is basically just an offcut of fabric that I start my stitching on.  This helps me get those seams nice and straight and any wobbles or tangles in the feed dogs at the start.

    leaders

    As you can see, I used the same scrap of yellow over and over (I'm up to piecing the eye units here).

    As for all of the other blocks to date, chain piecing will speed things up and if your are methodical, will help you avoid flipping the pieces and stitching the wrong way.

    angelica bubbles unit

    Be careful here. The top of the bubble section can be easy to twist around the wrong way when constructing your block.  

    I like to place the pieces I am sewing in two stacks at the front of my machine table.  As I pick them up I place them right sides together, sort of like I am closing a book along the edge I intend to sew.

    I didn't do this and certainly wish I had as  I needed to double check each one.  Even then I ended up with an oddball one.  Oh well. 

    Making the tail unit

    I recommend you skip through and make the tail unit next.  It has fewer pieces than the and is a good chance to practice those angel fish angles before getting to the larger, more intricate body unit.

    First of all chain piece all of your E and H strips together and give them a good press. Lay your background piece over  the top so that it looks like the diagram in the pattern, and making sure the white kona is on the left.

    Move it to your machine and stich across that diagonal.  Its a fairly small seam and I was confident I would nail it so I didn't bother to rule a line.  If unsure though that extra step is probably a good idea. Chain piece all 8 units and then flip it around and repeat for on the other side.

    It might seem a little awkward to chain piece these. To help keep things nice and straight, flick the bulk on the right up so that it sits on top of the previous unit.

    Stop here and check your angles

    Before you trim the corner triangles, check that your angles are going the right way.  Your units should look like mini harbour bridges with the pilons on each side and the seam line forming the lower part of the arch.

    Make the body unit

    Piece the body strips like before and join them to the head unit.  Make sure that you have the eyes positioned correctly.  My tip above for the bubble section and layering everything the same way in stacks will should help here.

    Then stitch  and the background K units  to the body in the same way we did when making the tail. Check your angles then trim and press.

    My fiesty fish

    Remember that story I told you about the fiesty angel fish?  Well my little school of angel fish are definitely unique.  I pushed on when I should have just walked away from the machine and after sweing my blocks together I discovered a couple of boo boos, in particular with the placement of the eyes like in the block below.

    It should look like this one:

    I could have pulled the culprits apart, but have decided to live with it and  just chalk it up to experience.  As Sherri Lynn Wood said to me in a workshop late last year in Brisbane

     Whoopee!  There are no mistakes just discoveries.

    Perhaps my angel fish come from somewhere much deeper in the ocean than Elizabeth Hartman's - you know - where all the weird stuff hide :-)

    I think the take home message here is to just take your time.  Angelica really isn't that complicated to make. 

    She just has a lot of small elements and needs your undivided attention.

    Next up in our Awesome Ocean journey will be Chuckles.  If you want to sew along with me and have beautiful reef fabrics and coordinates arrrive in the mail, there are still spots available in our Block of the Month program - just $55 per month for 9 months.  Check it out here.

    Are you just starting out on your Awesome Ocean Quilt?  Check out my tips for the other blocks we've made so far:

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    Making Puffy the Puffer Fish

    Making Puffy the Puffer Fish

    For month three in our Awesome Ocean Block of the Month we are making Puffy the Puffer fish. 

    I really enjoyed making these little guys and love their soft colours.  I think in the overall quilt they provide a nice counter-balance to the brighter, more saturated colours in the Octavian blocks.  It was also nice to dive a bit deeper into Elizabeth Hartman's Reef collection and introduce some more of the prints, plus new kona and Essex linen coordinates.

    Stop! 

    This bit is important

    Before you start cutting, there is a small error in the pattern for Puffy.  Piece G should be 1.5 x 2 inches, not 1 x 2 inches

    If you want to double check Elizabeth Hartman has included a pattern correction on her website, and you can read the details here

    Don't stress if you've already cut piece G too smal. You should have enough fabric left over in your pack to cut another piece if needed.

    My tips for speedy cutting

     Awesome Ocean puffy the puffer fish

    Speed up your cutting time and cut the pieces for the blocks in layers.  Unless you have a super-duper rotary cutter, I suggest splitting the 8 fabrics in each group in half and cut the pieces you need 4 at a time. 

    I think I mentioned this last month but thought I would show you this time.  As I cut each shape, I lay them out at the top of my cutting board with a little label.  Nothing fancy here -  I'm just using Post- Its.

    I've seen somewhere on Instagram someone use pretty painted wooden clothes pegs that are marked with numbers.  You could also use binding clips if you wanted.  For now though, pins and a scrap of paper is woking just fine.

    Making the Fins - tips for nice straight seams

    After making Octavian last month I feel like I'm getting into the swing of things so constructing the face and body units went just like clock work.  Of course I chain pieced each seam, so they seemed to fly together.

    The strips we are using to make the fins are only 1/2" finished, and with the white Kona Snow in the centre, any wobbles in your seams will be quite noticeable.

    My method requires pressing these seams open.  Even if you normally press yoru seams together, its not a problem to have them opened out in this part of your block. 

    Trust me - grab some scraps and try out this way first.

    1.  Sew either E or I to one side of the white piece L and press the seam open.  
    2. My patchwork foot is 1/4" from the centre needle position on both sides.  For the next seam I used lined the opened out seam allowance as a guide along the edge of my 1/4 inch foot, NOT the edges on the right side like I normally would. As you can see here, my first seam must have been the teensiest bit narrow as there is about 1/16th of an inch on that right side.  Following the seam allowance means that I am correcting this as I sew and that bright white strip will be bang on 1/2" when finished. 

    Press that last seam open as well.  Another advantage of those open seams in the fin units is that you will be 100% certain that you wont have any shadow from the coloured fabrics shining through.

     Here you can see my nicely nested seams at the back of my fin unit - and yes.... I'm flashing my backside ;-)

    reverse side puffy

    When you sew the corner squares on, make sure that you  get those angles going the right way. Somewhere along the way I got mine in a tangle and flipped one the wrong way, and of course I didn't notice until after I had trimmed the excess.  

    So don't be a dummy like me - split your fin units into two sets and double check those angles.

    Despite this boo-boo, Puffy is a lot of fun to make and my little school of puffer fish is pretty sweet don't you think?  If you are loving these cute little guys ( and who wouldnt?) there's still some spots available in our BOM  for $55/month.  Join here and sew along with me 

     

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