I’m Designer, Author, an your host for this program, Pat Sloan.
This year we challenged each designer to create a block inspired by ‘A tradition’ and I asked them to use red & white fabrics with just a splash of a color of their choice.
I’ve been friends with Alyce Blyth of Blossom Heart Quilts for years. I love how she teaches quilting with her sew alongs, her tutorials, and her passion for making quilting fun! The first time we talked was when she was living in Japan and got up at a crazy hour so we could record. That is how excited she is about sharing her love of quiltmaking. She lives in Australia and the last time we chatted was at a normal time, you can listen HERE
CLICK to Listen to our chat, it was a lot of fun!
Missed a month? CLICK FOR PRIOR DESIGNER interviews
Remember we have a Challenge portion of our Designer of the Month interview. Each month we select one random winner to receive a 12 LARGE spool BOX of Aurifil thread for just making the challenge block and sharing it! Details at the end plus last month’s winner!
Let’s get to know Alyce!
Where do you live and what is your favorite spot there?
I live in Melbourne, Australia. We’re known for having four seasons in a day, and that’s especially true in spring right now – as our weather is slowly warming up, it will start out pretty cold, then be beautiful and warm at midday, then suddenly a rain storm will come through right around school pick up! I love my city and all that Melbourne has to offer, and right now, all the trees and flowers are blooming now that spring has arrived. It’s so nice to see all the colour after a gloomy, grey winter!
When was your FIRST quilt sighting?
The first patchwork quilt I remember seeing was a mini wall hanging that my mum made when I was a teenager. It was part hexagons, part panel. The quilt that inspired me to start quilting was one that a friend of mine had made with her mum for her daughter. I was intrigued by the process, and the fun use of fabric colours and prints, as I had previously only seen really traditional fabrics used and they just weren’t my cup of tea. Thankfully, I happen to have a photo of it by chance in the background of a picture of my son. Who knew it would be such a memorable quilt?!
Have you had a ‘light bulb’ moment in making?
Over the past year or two, I’ve truly realized the value in creating just for the sake of creating. If you have the itch to create, make something! If you want to learn a new technique, have a play without the pressure of having to have a finished product or a purpose for the end product. I have a growing pile of quilt tops because of this, ha!
Challenges, patterns, and block swaps that have resulted in a quilt top, and one day, they will find a home. But making them because I wanted to was a totally valid reason to make them!
Do you have a favorite quilt you made?
That’s a hard question, because I have that thing where the last quilt is your favourite, ha! My favourite quilts are the ones that are both fun to make, but that are also infused with love and meaning for the recipient.
The most recent example would have to be the Double Dash baby quilt I made for my sister’s baby this year, where it was both super fun to make because it was my newest quilt pattern (and that’s always exciting!) but also the fabric I chose was just serendipitous in every way.
I had long adored the Mazy line of fabric by Dylan Mierzwinski with its retro vibe and colours, and while shopping for the fabric for this quilt, I suddenly realized that the range was absolutely perfect for this new baby – gender neutral in colour (didn’t know if I was gaining a niece or a nephew), and the gardening theme is spot on for my gardening-mad sister and her family! It turned out to be such a gorgeous quilt, and I know it will be well-loved.
Do you collect anything?
You mean besides fabric and Aurifil thread?! My family and I spent four years living in Chiba, Japan from 2012 – 2016. While there, I collected quite a number of souvenir Hello Kitty charms! You can find these all over the country, made uniquely for each location. I actually used them for photo props for a while when sharing blocks from a sew along a few years ago!
What is your best tip?
I am a big fan of using washi tape on my sewing machine when making half-square triangles, flying geese or any other similar kind of quilt block unit. By placing the washi tape in line with the needle, or a ¼” to one side (depending on the unit), it saves so much time by not having to mark the fabric instead! I’ve previously used any old washi tape, but I’ve just recently stocked up on specially marked washi tape from Cluck Cluck Sew that includes a marked line directly to the needle, and a ¼” either side. Genius!
Are you a Dog or Cat person? (or maybe something else?).
I am a fairly new guinea pig mama! We adopted two gorgeous little piggies in August, Heather (right) and her daughter, Hazel (left). I adore watching them play around, fight over who gets to eat the new pellets first, and seeing Hazel stick her nose through the cage to beg (loudly!) for leafy greens.
What is your favorite movie?
I shall forever and for always love the 1994 version of Little Women. I first saw it on TV, then bought the VHS tape of it (remember those?!), then upgraded to the DVD when that came out… and ended up with two when my best friend also bought me a copy!
What does your studio look like, and what would you change in it?
My studio space is a sort-of sunroom type space that was added to the dining room at some point in the house’s history. It has a lot natural light thanks to a wall of windows (along which runs a big desk for my computer and sewing machine) and the big glass doors at the end. I store my large Aurifil thread collection in plastic containers inside a set of drawers next to my sewing machine – they’re not fully enclosed drawers, so the containers keep them safe from dust.
The third wall is taken up with a window and a box air conditioner, so I’ve had to be a little creative with storage – my cutting table (workbenches from Ikea) includes two shelves (plus the floor underneath!) for storing plastic tubs of projects, yardage, AccuQuilt dies, and of course the big Liberty tub.
I also found a perfect little cupboard from the children’s wardrobe system at Ikea to store the majority of my stash, with space for my AccuQuilt cutter and my main project tubs at the bottom.
The lack of wall space also means that when I need my design wall out, it goes in the dining room, partially tucked in behind a sideboard AKA my office storage (patterns, shipping supplies, etc). If I could change anything, and one day I may just do this, would be to swap my computer desk for a standing desk – partly for better computer posture, partly so I can utilize the underneath space for more storage!
What else is new?
It’s been an exciting couple of months for Blossom Heart Quilts, with my book, Mini Masterpieces, out this month with Lucky Spool, and my coordinating Aurifil collection now out too!
Mini Masterpieces features 12 different designs, one workshop at a time, and the essential patchwork techniques you will need to create a modern mini quilt that is at home in any room of the house. Each chapter starts with a practice quilt block, then a mini quilt pattern using that technique on a (slightly!) larger scale. Combine your beautiful practice blocks into a larger sampler quilt at the end!
My Aurifil collection, also named Mini Masterpieces, features 12 of my favourite colours in 50wt. The collection is a good basic toolbox with a rainbow of 10 colours, and two basic neutrals – white 2021 and my all-time favourite colour 2000. The 2000 thread is a slightly golden, creamy colour that goes with just about everything!
About your block – What Tradition are you celebrating?
I have spent all year wondering what to do for this block. We have a few favourite family traditions, like a weekend movie night at home snuggled under quilts on the sofa. Or something special for breakfast on Saturdays, whether it’s simply crumpets and jam, or some homemade pancakes, or a full cook up. But I think the perfect tradition to
represent in a quilt block is the handmade Advent calendar that we use every single year.
I know it’s only October (and we don’t really do Halloween here in Australia!) but with Christmas beginning to appear in the shops, my kids have already wondered out loud what they might find in the Advent calendar this year!
I made the Advent calendar 7 years ago, using a mix of foundation paper pieced blocks by my friend Kristy from Quiet Play, and twelve machine-pieced Christmas ornaments I designed. There’s a couple of holes starting to appear, and I occasionally cringe at the (lack of) technique in some spots, but it is well-loved and cherished.
Each year, the kids take turns doing the Advent calendar – in each pocket is a piece of our Nativity scene (a wooden Advent calender style itself) and then either a little treat or a piece of paper with a clue for a fun, seasonal activity we’ll do that day. It might be as simple as writing Christmas cards or having hot chocolate and Christmas cookies, or it might be more adventurous like going out to see Christmas lights after dinner one night.
DOWNLOAD the Advent block by Blossom Heart Quilts
Visit Alyce at:
- Website: www.blossomheartquilts.com
- Shop: shop.blossomheartquilts.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/blossomheartquilts
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/blossomheartquilts
- Mini Masterpieces book: https://luckyspool.com/collections/books/products/minimasterpieces
Each year I make the Aurifil blocks in a totally different set of fabrics.
CLICK TO MY Website for a how I laid out the block to sew
Enter your block BELOW by NOV 14, 2019 to be in the running to win a BOX of Aurifil
And JOIN my fantastic online quilt group with the most incredible quilt show each day… I’d love to meet you!
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EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a block.. that person will receive a special Aurifil thread prize! Winners are all contacted email
random number picker selected Becky’s block! You’ve been emailed
CLICK to see all the great versions for last month HERE
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Cannot find a place to download oct.bom traditions.am I missing something?
Thank you … your tips are awesome!
That was fun to read and hear Alycia’s answers!