Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Cheerful Disappearing Sashed 9 Patch!

I've been meaning to make this block for a few weeks now, since I saw a video of how to make it by the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  You will probably want to watch their video, but I'm going to set out the steps for how to make it here, just in case I want to remind myself of it again without video!

1) Set out your fabrics (mine are 5" charm squares and 2 1/2" strips of sashing.  Bear in mind the five charms that make the cross shape will be chopped up, so if you want to retain a particular motif whole make sure that it goes into one of the corner squares.
 2) Sew together.  You can see why it's called 9 patch window pane too, can't you?
3) Cut into quarters.
 4) Decide on your layout.  This is a great one that doesn't rely on seams matching up (!).
5) This is the layout that I chose this time around.

Sew the quarters together.

Obviously, you might want to make a quilt with more blocks than this, but as I was making just one to see what it was like, I turned it into a  baby quilt with a couple of borders.
 You can see it (well, the quilt top - I haven't backed, basted and quilted it yet) here on my design wall. 

The block itself comes out as 17" square (I think!).  I added three borders (white, batik with cornerstones, white) each cut 2 1/2" wide, so I have a finished baby quilt of about 29" square.

It's really cheerful!  It makes me happy to be sewing!
I also added a fusible design to a t-shirt that was too plain.

I used the shapes from pilofabrics raw edge applique tutorial, added fusible and fabric, and then outline stitched them.  A fast and easy way to add a little decoration!
 Finally, I hung up my Dear Jane.  Of course, as it's on a turn in the stairs it can't be snapped without the banisters in the picture too, but it too makes me feel cheerful every time that I see it!

This is the view that I usually have of it, looking up at it.
This is how it looks from above.  The other part of it, the little bit, won't be hung above the window until it's had an outing to my group's quilt show later this month - I think that it's a task that DH and I will only want to do once!

Hope that you can find things to make you cheerful too!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Lazy labels, Blocking Quilts and more.

So many things to do, and lots of quilts that needed labels.  I wish that I'd labelled them as I was going along, of course!  I decided to do a 'quick and dirty' solution:  printing the information onto pre-treated fabric, iron to fix it, iron it onto fusible and then cut the labels and iron them onto the quilts.

Of course, I know that the quilts that will be washed need to have some stitching around the labels too, but it was a great way to add the information I wanted onto these quilts.

 I also decided to take the plunge and wash my Love Entwined quilt with synthrapol (to get rid of the dye runs) and block it to help it lie flat against the wall when it was hung.

I took advice (thanks Avril!) and set it out like so:

1) lay down a plastic sheet.

 2) lay down a sheet (or in my case duvet cover), smoothing out any wrinkles.
 3) lay out the dampened quilt on top.  Gently pull into shape.  I used a large square ruler to check the corners and a meter rule to measure the sides.
 4) Using a long straight edge (I used my meter rule again) pin the quilt out keeping the edges as straight as possible.

 5) Allow it to dry undisturbed!  It should lay flat, a bit like damp stretching a piece of embroidery!
 One of my 'things to do' was celebrate my birthday.  Not the planned trip to the cinema to see the Bill Bryson film, Walk in the Woods, but a trip to see the author himself at the Kew literary festival!  Big thanks to my lovely SIL and niece who gave up their tickets so that DH and I could go.

Wonderfully entertaining talk and a wonderful surprise to be able to go!
Back home to my quilting and after finishing the binding on the large part of my Dear Jane quilt I decided that it needed blocking too.

This time I wasn't brave enough to put it into the washing machine (I know that some of the seam allowances from the blocks made years ago are too narrow!) so it had to make do with a heavy spritz of water before being pinned.

I'm pleased with how its looking and should be able to show you a picture of it hung up next week!  A milestone indeed!

I hope that your week has been as much fun as mine!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Show stopper!

Don't you think that's an amazing cake?

My lovely DH took a secret day off work, borrowed his sister's kitchen, and spent the day baking and decorating his first ever cakes (one chocolate, one lemon) to make the thread spool, complete with lemon buttercream icing, and strawberry lace thread, as well as the quilt, scissors and needle.

A real show stopper (fans of The Great British Bakeoff will be familiar with the term!).

Isn't it wonderful?  I was very touched by the whole effort that had gone into the secret making of this, ready for my birthday.

I realise that I should really be taking photos of the wonderful fabric post cards, hand made cards and sewing themed cards that I received - and the lovely hand sewn presents that I had from Benta - but perhaps that's something for another day.

After all, now I've got cake to eat.......!!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Hurrah for Sewing!

At last!  Some proper sewing on a new project!  It seems ages since I've started a new quilt (in fact it is nearly two months, which is quite a long time for me!).

After wondering about various book based projects, I finally decided to start a 'Farmers Wife' quilt.  These are the first four blocks that I've made - not picking a colour scheme, just picking fabrics out of the scrap box that were the right sizes and shapes!  I'm thinking that I'm going to make 50 blocks and sash them as the book suggests, to make a lap quilt.

I bought the book 'blind' (online).  I was surprised that between the book and the CD that there weren't any full size skeletons of the blocks.
 I'd got so used to the way that I'd made my Dear Jane blocks that I hadn't really considered that this might not be possible in the next book that I chose - what a lack of imagination I have!

Still, as I am lucky enough to own Quilt Pro software, I've been re-creating the blocks, making a note of the rotary cut block sizes (or when appropriate printing out the blocks for foundation piecing) and getting on with making them quite happily.

It feels good to have started a new project - even if the blocks feel large (6 1/2" square - a full 2" bigger each way than the Dear Jane blocks!).

My other project this week has been to use sheer fabrics to make fabric postcards.

To be honest, I'm a bit disappointed with myself.  These use a technique that I saw Kim Tittichai demonstrating.  You bond misty fuse or bond-a-web to sheers, stamp images on them, then cut them out with a soldering iron before applying them to a base fabric.

Mine just look a bit......I'm not sure, not exciting enough!  I think that using a patterned background might have helped (adding the Inktense pencil 'clouds' was a good improvement to these cards), but I think that really, I should have tried pushing myself a bit to try something with more textural and visual interest!

This is a good technique - and leaves you with lovely fabric 'stickers' - but I'm not sure that I really exploited the sheer element of the fabrics.  I need to try something else with organzas when I've got a bit more energy to put into it!

On the plus side, I've got lots of 'stickers' left over, I've tried a new technique that might suit other projects better and I've re-learned how easy it is to cut sheers with a soldering iron!  Good learning outcomes!

Hope that you are learning more about your crafts this week too!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


 One of the benefits of sorting my craft room out is that I come across things that I need to deal with.  The time has come to decide whether I'm going to do something useful with these items or consign them to the bin (or more likely the local scrapstore - recycling project - charity shop or similar).

I came across two A4 journal quilts.  For some time they haven't commanded wall space in the house.  I had put them into my projects cupboard intending to make book covers out of them.  Of course, the sizing wasn't quite right for an A5 cover, so the project languished.

Now, with my new found love of a zippy pouch (!) I decided that I'd be able to repurpose them into small bags.
I machine stitched a zip to one short end, sewed up the sides and then hand stitched the second side of the zip to the other short end.

It only took a few minutes and I was pleased enough with the result to be able to give it to one of my friends.  A great result all round!

Another great result this week was being able to go to my monthly quilting meeting.  One of the members, Julie, ran a great workshop on thermofax printing.  Turns out that it's great fun, quite easy, and wouldn't take up too much storage space if I was to invest in some of the screens.....on no, I remember, I'm trying to thin out equipment, not buy more!  Perhaps I should leave the thermofax idea on the back burner for the moment!

I hope that you are managing some early autumn crafting too.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Ticking Along

 Over a month since I machine sewed the binding around this cot quilt - but now it's finished!  34" square, I like the patterns on this 'disappearing' block.  I still think that it would be best with scrappy blocks or just using two fabrics, though. If you squint at the screen you get a better idea of the overall pattern.  I'll have to put it on the list for when I get the urge to make another speedy pieced quilt!
The 'original' sewing this week was (another!) zippy pouch.  Now that I have the knack of making these, its hard to stop producing them for birthdays and small gifts!

This week I'm hoping to get some Dear Jane binding done.  Good to be able to have some easy hand sewing to cosy up in front of the TV with!

I'm also starting to look through my quilt books for a longer term project.  I had thought that once I'd finished 'Dear Jane' I'd move on to 'Dear Hannah' by the same author.  However, now that I've taken it down and had a good look at it, I realise that it seems a bit schizophrenic.  I'm not sure that the pieced blocks and the applique blocks (Brenda P mixed blocks from two historic quilts) work together as well as I'd like them too.  Perhaps I'll take a selection of each and make two smaller projects. 

I've also wondered about Susan Briscoe's 1718 coverlet.  Hard to choose what to do!  I rather think that my mini storm at sea might be resurrected in the meantime.  Small and not too demanding in terms of brain power!

Any other suggestions?  I'm after something that it is a mix of machine and hand sewing, lots of variety moving to a 'common goal' of a finished quilt.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Still Beavering Away.

Not much in the way of sewing still - just this little gift set of zippy pouch, covered notebook and tissue holder.

I'm still working away at putting  my sewing space back to rights.  I'm making progress but I've been a bit tired (bloomin' M.E. and the summer holidays!) so it's taking longer than I want it too.

Ho hum!  Still, every box I empty is a box closer to getting it finished - so any progress is good progress.

My quilting group is having it's show in a couple of months, so my next sewing related task is to complete the entry forms for any quilts I want to exhibit.  Well, that and actually finishing the quilts that I'd like to share - I still need to square up and bind the larger part of my Dear Jane!

Hope that you're enjoying some late summer sewing!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Work in Progress!

I'm spending time 'rebuilding' my sewing room / study / spare room - so here's the tour of how its looking at the moment.

Starting off behind the door - this bookshelf is a work in progress - lots of juggling things about as items return to the room and I choose their new locations.

To the right you can just see my 'design wall' (a fleece on a pole) .
Another shot further around the room.  You can see some shelves on the back wall which are now starting to fill up with books.

One day there will be a sofa bed on the back wall, with a quilt hanging above it.

You can see the flattened boxes that I've emptied and you can see the bookshelf lying down that won't fit in, and drawer units that were on their way to under my sewing table.
 Further round the room, you can see the second of the two windows that look over the garden.  My laptop is set up nearest the window, the one that my DDs use is right next to it (part of the reason for having two chairs along this table.

When you are re-sorting it always looks like such a mess, doesn't it?
 Final shot, showing the layout right the way back round to the door where we started.

Difficult to tell from the photos, but the room is a stubby L shape.  The tables are a total of 2.8m.  The opposite wall is just over 2m.

So my WIP is unpacking, sorting, organising.  Its going to take a while!
This represents the total of my sewing output - a zippy purse and a warmer.  Its not much, but enough to keep me happy that I've at least started sewing in the 'new' room!

It feels good to be able to do even just a little back in here.

Hope that you are enjoying your summer too!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Disappearing Hour Glass

 There are some great tutorials for this block on the web already.
I'm not trying to compete - just to put this where I can always find it after I spent a few minutes wondering how to replicate a block that I'd made some time ago (and wrongly thinking that it started with a pinwheel block!).
 Take two 10" squares of fabric.  Lay them right sides together and sew all around them.

Cut them across both diagonals (and I'd recommend carefully pressing them open at this stage, although I rarely follow my own advice!).
 Lay them out in this pattern - which I think is called 'hour glass' although some people might use that name just for the centre four triangles in this arrangement.

Tricky business, getting block names right!

Sew together and press again.
 Your block will probably be 12 2/3" square.

Slice into thirds in each direction (so for this size, 4 1/4" per slice).
 Rotate the corner and centre blocks to get to this pattern (I like the little butterflies in it, which will remind me that this is the week when my DD2's butterflies hatched).
 Make enough that you can make a quilt!

I didn't have enough blue with me to make the nine blocks that I wanted to, so make the rest with a blue backed floral, which wasn't quite as close tonally as I'd hoped!
I decided that this was the better of the two layouts that I tried.  Still not perfect for showing off the  pattern that it made when the blocks come together, but enough to get the idea of it!

I might be putting this back on my list of things to make more / make again.  I think that it would work really well as a scrappy quilt and I'm pretty sure that I already have some 10" squares cut and in my scrap drawers.

This will make a reasonable baby quilt, though.  about 32" finished size.

Layering, basting and quilting next on my list of things to do!

Basted and Quilted

 I finally found enough clear and clean floor where I could (spray) baste the two parts of my Dear Jane.

It was then folded up, bundled into a bag and stuffed into a crate with my other sewing supplies so that it could come on holiday with me!
 I've been wondering for years quite how I was going to quilt this project.

I tried out several patterns on a sample sandwich and decided that I'd give the 'flame' pattern (difficult to see here, but it's on the right hand side) a go as an all over pattern.
 This was my sewing area for the week.  Some people might think that it was a dressing table, what with the mirror behind it and everything....but with the addition of the ironing board it made a great place to quilt!
 I started with the smaller of the two pieces.  Then got on and trimmed and bound it, ready to hand sew the back of the binding and the hanging sleeve over the rest of the week.
 Then it was time to tackle the larger piece.  It really is on the limits of what I can comfortably handle, and I'm afraid that some of the quilting reflects that!  I'm not sure that the sashing will be quite as straight and true as it was before I started quilting it!

Never mind, it's quilted, by me, and ready for trimming and binding when I get back to my largest cutting mat at home!
Of course, I stopped for frequent breaks to gaze at the view. Difficult to see here, but we have the most fabulous view over a village and some fields to the sand dunes, beach and sea.  Whatever the weather (and it's been changeable this week, to say the least!) its been a fascinating vista!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Bits and Bobs

I've had a good run of quilting over the last few weeks - concentrating on my UFO's has been a good way to make progress for me - until this week when life (and holidays!) got in the way of sewing time!

A couple of weeks ago I went to an entertaining talk by Jo Avery at my quilt group, Richmond and Kew Quilters.  Pretty much defining what makes a 'Modern Quilt' with lots of examples to show us.  Her work is always fun - you might have seen it in Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine - but you can also see some on her blog here.

I bought a book that she'd co-authored too: 50 Fat Quarter Makes.  Lots of small projects that look perfect for my DD's and I want to sew over the holidays!

Just as well, as I've only managed two small sewing tasks this week: patching a hole in DD2's leggings (!) and making a small zipper pouch so that I could walk DD2 and one of her friends through how to make them.  I managed it and the girls were very pleased with their pencil case sized pouches, even if I did forget to take a photo of them before they were whisked away!
This was my version - which has already found a purpose, housing my 'power block' (remote charger) and various leads when we went away for a few nights.

Not big, not clever, but a zipped and lined pouch is quite a good little sewing project to have under our belts, so to speak!

I hope that you are having happy summer sewing too!
Next week I hope to have made more progress on my Dear Jane again.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Small Stuff

Having put aside my Dear Jane for the moment, until I've got a clear enough floor to baste it (well, 'them' - see my last post!), I've been making small stuff.

Like this micro quilt - just 3 1/4" square, with an improv 12 patch middle, fully bound.  Fun to do to and inspired by Amanda jane at crazymomquilts.

I expect to make more over the summer - they are a good way to use a tiny bit of scrap stash with a fun result.
 More small things here - trying to see what I could make out of two tea towels from Poundland.  The answer was: a notebook cover, a tissue pouch, a zipper pouch and a tiny purse.  I had fun with these, but the tea towels I was using were quite loosely woven, which means that I'm not sure that these objects are going to last with much use.....

Thanks, Benta, for the original idea for the zipper purse and tea towel use, though!
I've also made four fabric postcards.

These two I took photos of, the other ones,  It turns out that I didn't!

I also failed to take photos of another couple of personalised covered notebooks and tissue holders - last minute end-of-term stuff!
Lastly, with hardly any sewing, a bunting card to celebrate another significant birthday for a friend.

In between these I've been sewing a few of my little storm at sea blocks.

Now that the school holidays have started in earnest it's more difficult to work on larger projects but at least I'm getting my sewing fix in other ways!