Welcome Little Bits Quilting Bee!

design, fabric, inspiration, quilting

I have this interesting relationship with Kathreen Ricketson. She’s been kind of like a modern-day pen pal to me for the past six or seven years, even though we’ve never met. Kathreen, the founder of the popular craft blog Whipup.net lives in Australia. Before starting this blog I wrote for Whipup for about a year and a half. I became a huge fan of Kathreen’s and admire both her eye and her heart. I look forward to meeting Kathreen in person one of these days but in the meantime, I get to enjoy another of her charming books.

On this stop of the Little Bits Quilting Bee Blog Tour I sent Kathreen a series of questions about the book and about her life as a Craft Queen. Below are her answers. Enjoy!

1. How did you go about designing the quilts in the book? Describe your creative process.

I begin by forming a theme – in this case it was using pre-cut fabrics, and my love of bright colours – tradition and contemporary mixed together. I start by researching concepts, looking through books and magazines – including books like traditional shibori, Latvian embroidery, Indian architecture and Mid-century fabric design mixed with magazines on topics ranging from Indie music and designer interiors to vintage quilt pattern and sewing magazines. It’s all fodder for my inspiration. At the same time I am sketching up designs, taking note of colour combinations, contrasts, patterns and shapes.

Once I have my sketches, I choose fabrics – collecting fabric swatches from all over, both digital and real, I add them to my physical sketch book and to my digital sketch book too. I then design up the ideas in a quilt software program, which helps with calculating sizes. This is the most difficult part as the blocks in these quilts had to be sized for use with pre-cut fabric pieces, to allow as little wastage as possible. So there was a lot of back and forth on designing blocks, sewing up test blocks, and back again to get the right size block and quilt for the fabric that was to be used.

Once the quilt pattern was finalised and tested by me, I then had a quilt making friend and neighbour give them the once over as well, after discussion about what techniques would be used and how to efficiently cut the pattern pieces, I once again went back to the original quilt patterns and made more changes. At this point I wanted to be certain I had a good mix of easy, medium and difficult quilts, that I had some quilts with curves, some with improv sewing, some applique as well as some whole quilt designs. So again the patterns were tweaked, some tossed out and a couple of new ones added in until I was happy with the final group.

2. What was the hardest part of writing the book? The most interesting? The most fun?

Physically the hardest part was the sewing of the quilt tops, 20 quilts in 5 months – luckily I farmed out five quilt tops to some quilty friends, the other 15 I made myself and at the end of those months my back was aching and I had devised a method of sewing standing up. Mentally the hardest part for me is the math involved while designing the patterns.

The most interesting part – well I found the whole process interesting – taking my art and design and sewing skills to a new level was incredibly fun and satisfying. Learning a new computer program was interesting, but the most fun part was learning how to use my new quilting machine. All the quilts in the book (except for the hand quilted one) were quilted by me. I loved practicing my new-found free-form quilting skills, and the quilting is an essential part of their design.

3. What’s next for you?

When this is posted up I will be just back from my month long holiday and so am hoping to be refreshed and getting stuck straight into a whole bunch of new projects. Hopefully a new book will part of that – but definitely I am doing more with my Action Pack magazine for kids, designing new quilts and taking on new challenges too.

4. Describe an average day. Do you write everyday? Research for whipup? Work on Action Pack?

I get up early to answer emails, because I am in Australia I like to make sure to be online when the rest of the world is too – at least for an hour in the morning before breakfast – this is when I can answer questions or reply to emails. Then we have breakfast as a family, we always have a hot cooked breakfast – bacon, eggs and tea is our usual, the kids are usually so busy at school they don’t like to have a huge lunch – mostly fruit, homemade muffin or cake and maybe a bagel, so I like to send them off for the day with a hearty breakfast. After getting the kids packed off to school, I sometimes meet a friend for coffee and an hour of knitting or crochet, or else I go for a bike ride or do some groceries, then I head home and do an hour of housework, before working on whipup, Action Pack, or my current book project – whichever is the most urgent. I meet the kids after school and we have afternoon tea together and chat about the day, then I begin dinner, we might bake together or work on some craft projects or go to the park. Then its dinner time, we read a chapter of our family novel and the kids then go to bed and read their books for a while before lights out. Finally my husband Rob and I get a chance to sit down together – we might have a glass of wine or a cup of tea and discuss our day, our current project or our latest scheme or dream. And thats the day… It’s a mix of mothering, housework, writing, paper work, organisation, baking, craft, and I make sure to squeeze in some time for myself and for my husband.

5. You have a weekend all to yourself. You can have any supplies you need. What would you make?

I have so many projects on the go, a couple of crochet blankets, about five half finished quilts, a pile of fabric waiting to be turned into cushions, an upholstered headboard project that exists only on paper, a big pile of thrift-store clothes waiting to be turned into something plus a shelf full of delicious wool felt – all of these things are constantly calling to me. But give me a whole weekend to myself I might just take a bath and grab a book or hunker down with a hot chocolate and my crochet!

Chronicle, the publisher of Little Bits Quilting Bee, is offering to send a free copy  to a US resident. If you’re interested in having your name in the drawing, please leave a comment. Do you use pre-cuts? Are you a longtime Whipup reader? Chime in.

Below are the remaining stops on the blog tour so even if your name isn’t chosen for the book here, keep trying because there are lots more stops.

Monday, November 7 – The Long Thread
Tuesday, November 8 – Craft Nectar & Comfort Stitching
Wednesday, November 9 – luvinthemommyhood & Elsie Marley
Thursday, November 10 – True Up
Friday, November 11 – House on Hill Road & CraftyPod

Monday, November 14 – Handmade by Alissa & Hello My Name Is Heather
Tuesday, November 15 – West Coast Crafty & Foxy Art Studio
Wednesday, November 16 – Patch Andi & The Last Piece
Thursday, November 17 – In Color Order & Duo Fiberworks
Friday, November 18 – Kristin La Flamme & Camp Follower Bags & Quilts

Monday, November 21 – Quilt Dad
Tuesday, November 22 – Pat Sloan & Pleasant Home

62 thoughts on “Welcome Little Bits Quilting Bee!

  1. ooh, this looks like a fun book, precuts are always so tempting but I’m never quite sure what to do with them.

  2. I am a long time whip up reader. I love whip up. : ) It’s one of my favorite and daily reads. I am just starting to quilt so no I have not used pre-cuts yet. : )

  3. I have a basket full of charm packs spilling over just waiting to become something other than pretty! Yes, I’m a long time reader of Whip Up.

  4. I havn’t used precuts before, but I love how I can trust that they are cut to perfection. I just get stuck as to what to do with them. This book would be a great solution for that.

  5. I love precuts – have used jellyrolls, charm packs and layer cakes……the book looks terrific. I do read the Whipup blog…..lots of fun projects and inspiration. Thanks for the chance to win the book. Peace….

  6. Yes, I read Whipup and I use charm packs but only recently. Having a 5 year old and constantly shuttling him around makes it harder to have a lot of time to quilt, I have found that charm packs/precuts really do save time when there isn’t a lot to be found.

  7. I used to read Whip-up around the time you were writing for them. I moved to more quilting only focused blogs so haven’t kept up with Kathreen.

    I only recently have used some pre-cuts. I like the challenge of figuring out what to do with the specific sizes offered and it is a fun way to get a piece of a collection you love.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity! I’m sure I would love Kathreen’s book.

  8. I buy lots of pre-cuts, mostly charm squares and layer cakes. They are a fast way for me to buy a variety of fabrics that I like and that go together. I can fill them in later with solids.

  9. I like charm packs for their variety, and I can usually use some of my fabric stash with them. I would love to win the book!

  10. I’d love the chance to use this book. I like to buy charm packs – a little bit of a lot. Sometimes that leads to yardage, sometimes not. I’ve also made a few jelly roll projects. It makes those time sensitive projects easier sometimes.

  11. I am a beginner quilter. I have LOTS of precuts! I love them. This book is definitely going on my “must have” list! Thanks for the chance to win one. I can’t wait to actually see it.

  12. I have just started using some pre-cuts. It’s nice to get a piece of the whole collection- especially if you make a scrappy quilt. Thanks for participating in the tour.

  13. Occasionally I read whipup as it loads slowly on my computer. I read the review on whipup prior to taking the time for the blog book tour. My favorite pre-cut is a fat quarter and wish to soon make my first project with charms or a jelly. Thanks for the chance.

  14. I am a longtime Whip Up reader. One of my best days ever was the day my double-needle tutorial made it’s way onto the Whip Up blog. :)

  15. I have a Jelly Roll, my first, but haven’t planned anything for that yet. I have mostly been buying charm packs.

    I have been reading WhipUp but not a ‘long time’ read as I am fairly new to quilting and following blogs since I am also new to quilting.

  16. Love whip up! I’m not a big precut person, but this books looks so lovely, I’m pretty sure I’d be willing to translate it to my very large stash of yardage. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  17. I do like precuts. Cutting is my least favorite part of quilting. This is the first I’ve heard of Whip, but I am going to go check it or now. Thanks for the review and the giveaway.

  18. I’ve been a quilter for many years but only started reading quilting and crafting blogs a few months ago. I can’t believe what I’ve been missing! Although having a phone now with access to the internet might have opened the door. hehe. I love blog hops as I always find creative and inspiring people to me to follow. I’m a new follower here and my next stop with be to Whipup. This book looks great and lots of eye candy as well.

    Thanks so much for the giveaway and a chance to win.


  19. I’ve made some quilts with precuts. My favorite so far is a hexagon lap throw. I took 3 or 4 matching charm packs and added a lot of other fabrics (to make close to 300 hexagons) so it wouldn’t be too matchy-matchy.

  20. I bought some precut solid strips a while back in a jelly roll but haven’t used them yet–not sure what to do with them. I’ve never heard of whipup, but plan to check them out today.

  21. I am a new Whipup reader. I have only used charm packs and this looks like a beautiful book to use other precuts on.

  22. I am a beginner quilter and would love to win this book… looks so charming and inspiring! I love buying fat squares and jelly rolls.

  23. I love using precuts… they’re so nice because the colors and prints are already coordinated and ready to go! This book looks SOOOO fun—tons of ideas for using those wonderful precuts! :-) Thanks for this fun contest!

  24. I do have some precuts in and have used some in the past but need to use more. There are so many great lines of fabrics. Never heard of Whip ups before, but I will be checking it out. Thanks for the info and the chance.

  25. oh little bits, i love you! i am so excited to add this book to my collection and to get some pre-cut inspiration. i adore fat quarters, but can’t wait to learn about using different pre-cuts. the book looks just divine.

  26. I use precuts occasionally, and especially when I am pressed for time — they are so much eaiser than cutting everything myself. And I am a big fan of whip up!

  27. I love using pre-cuts because you get a variety of prints all in the same line and I don’t have to worry about matching fabrics myself! That’s what I was hesitant about when I first started quilting. Thanks for the chance to win!

  28. I’m a pre-cut collector. My sewing space is miniscule at the moment and so I don’t do a lot of actually sewing with them. I’d love the inspiration to use some of them.

  29. I’m a new quilter so I haven’t tackled any pre-cuts yet. Would love to win this book to provide me with some instruction and inspiration.

  30. I guess the accurate answer to the question as to whether I use precuts would be that I collect them. So it would be great to get a book that shows me how to use them with some modern style.

  31. I’m always looking for new ways to use precuts, and this looks like it has some fabulous ideas! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  32. I love precuts because when you fall in love with an entire line (as I tend to) you get a get a little bit of all of it! It’s also nice for when you can’t see the fabrics in person. Sometimes seeing that bit in the precut helps you decide what you’d like to get yardage of.

  33. I am fairly new to quilting and have an obsession with the process and creativity involved. I also belong to a fiber guild and have mixed fiber, beads, and other things into wall hangings and quilts…I would love to win this book as I am taking little bits and pieces and using them when I make clothes for my grandaughter…thank you…how does it get any better than this..!

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