Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Cutting it fine

I was cutting it fine last week trying to finish up a crocheted shawl for a birthday pressie.  I honestly didn't think I'd make it but on Thursday night I was sewing in the yarn ends and wrapping and packing for an early trip to the Post Office on Friday.  Then it was up to first class mail to do its bit while I crossed my fingers.

So now that it has been received I can show you this Elise Shawl.  I found the free pattern on Ravelry.  It crocheted up a treat and overall really wouldn't take you too long if you remained focussed.  Unfortunately, I didn't.  Hence the 'cutting it fine', in spite of having started in plenty of time really.

This shawl is only little, making a neck scarf size, but you could easily just keep the pattern going with no need to recalculate the written instructions, other than the need for a little more yarn if you wanted a larger shawl.

When I had finished the stitches I admit that I was worried that I ought to have gone a few rows more to make it bigger but then I blocked it and that was like magic.  Truly.  I was amazed how much bigger blocking it and opening out the stitch pattern made the whole piece.

I am certainly no pro at any of this (as the mistakes in the crochet will testify) but the mystery of blocking was debunked somewhere during my Christmas googling time.  All I did was soak the shawl in some lukewarm water with a tiny bit of mild detergent for 15 mins.  Then I squeezed out the water gently being careful not to wring the fibres. So, just squeeze, don't twist or pull.  After that I laid out a bath towel on the living room floor and pinned the shawl out as neatly as I could.  Next morning, the shawl was nice and dry and when I took the pins away it looked like a beautiful piece of lace which it most definitely hadn't when it came off the hook.  Hooray for blocking!

I would definitely recommend the Elise Shawl pattern if you fancy making a simple, pretty shawl.  One day I hope I'll get time to hook one up for myself, but for now I'm happy that my lovely friend liked her birthday present.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Moda Modern Building Blocks - Blocks 23, 24, 25 and 26

I have some more progress on my Moda Modern Building Blocks to show you.  Again these ones are all 6" square (finished).

Moda Modern Building Blocks - Block 23
I think the Moda pattern designers may have felt we deserved an easy block after number 22 and its 48 pieces (see my previous post on the MMBB) and this one is hardly patchwork at all.  One large HST and we're done.  Enjoyed using one of my last cuts of this pink Ruby floral print in this block.

Moda Modern Building Blocks - Block 24
 I didn't have any problems with Block 24 and love the contrast between the houndstooth pattern and the orange with its dots.  There is something very appealing about the clean simple lines of this block pattern, don't you think?

Moda Modern Building Blocks - Block 25
This multiple layer economy square block design for block 25 felt as if it was going together well, but for some reason I am going to lose several of those outer points.  I think part of the issue is that I don't know what size each of the "rounds" should be finishing.  That would have been a helpful inclusion in the pattern because then you would know whether you need to trim the inner "rounds" a little as you go.  Not sure if I should live with it or re-do it.  I know if I had more time then I would make it over.  Maybe I'll just make a note and see how I feel when all the blocks are made.

Moda Modern Building Blocks - Block 26
Block 26 is a sawtooth star.  Always love this block.   On the whole I've chosen my fabric in line with colours in the original quilt pattern (though I'm using prints rather than solids) but in the absence of many grey fabrics in my B&C stash I just hope I've made enough of a contrast in my fabric choices that the design isn't lost in the bigger quilt.

I've now officially passed the halfway point in terms of block numbers.  26 down, 22 to go.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Scrap Box blocks

I've been brewing a plan for a while.  It involves delving into my carefully stored and pre-cut scrap boxes and doing something useful with them.  Since committing to a whole quilt myself for the Siblings Together charity just isn't possible this year, I thought I might cheerlead from the sides, encouraging all of you to raid your scrap boxes and make a simple scrappy quilt or two yourselves. 

With a trusty assistant at hand a few weekends ago, we got stuck into my scrap boxes and the three block designs in the top photo are what we came up with.  There's no rocket science in any of these blocks and I'm quite sure that all of you would be able to come with these by yourself.  However, on the off chance that you've been wondering what to do with your scraps or trying to think of a quilt for Siblings Together and would simply like someone to have done the cutting maths for you, I'm going to share tutorials for all three types of block here on the blog over the next few weeks.

Frame Box Block Tutorial

Today I'm going to share a tutorial for this block which is a 10.5" x 12.5" unfinished rectangle.  For these blocks I went straight to my box of 2.5" strips. Just a few cuts and a few seams resulted in these pretty framed box blocks.  These would be perfect if you have leftover jelly roll strips or lengths of unused 2.5" binding. So go on, hunt a few out and join in.

To start with you will need 3 different fabrics which are 2.5" wide.

Fabric A (centre rectangle)
Cut 1:  2.5" x 4.5"

Fabric B (first frame - a 2.5" x 22" strip will allow you all the cuts required)
Cut 2: 2.5" x 4.5"
Cut 2: 2.5" x 6.5"

Fabric C (outer frame - a 2.5" x 38" strip will allow you all the cuts required)
Cut 2: 2.5" x 8.5"
Cut 2: 2.5" x 10.5"

Layout your pieces as shown in the photo above.

Using scant 0.25" seams throughout, stitch the borders in place adding the side pieces first and then the top and bottom.

Press seams away from the centre.

Your outer border is added in exactly the same way - sides first, then top and bottom.  Neatly trim to 10.5" x 12.5".   After that, hey presto ...

you will have a great wee block for the start of your Siblings Together Quilt and you'll have done something useful with those scraps!!

I realise that this isn't the most detailed of tutorials, so please do ask if you need any clarification, but honestly it is that simple.

As a by the way, I am very happy for anyone to reference these scrap box block tutorials or indeed any of my block tutorials for use in your Charity Bees or even just your ordinary Bee groups.

Hope to be back soon with the next scrap box block tutorial for you.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Birthday Quilt in preparation

My brother has a special birthday this year and it's been in my head for a long time that I wanted to make him a quilt for it.  I know that working to deadlines isn't going to be my forte this year so if I have any chance of actually gifting him a quilt early this summer, then I need to make a start now and I need to keep it uncomplicated.

Scrolling my Instagram feed at the beginning of January I saw many quilts in the Layers of Charm pattern by the Fat Quarter Shop but one in particular was made in black and neutrals and bingo! I knew this quilt could be do-able for my brother.  Though I really wanted to add a wee pop of orange in the midst of all that neutral.  Don't know why, but I indulged my instinct and got approval from DS who was eyeing up the fabrics appreciatively as a whole.

Bro is a biochemist so I thought these lovely science fair fabrics with equations, the periodic table and suitably mystifying formulae on would be just perfect and not too twee as novelty fabrics go.

The cutting was quick and the piecing shouldn't take long either, even if I've only completed the first two rows to date.  Should be a good one to pick up and piece when I get a wee block of time at the machine and hopefully it will grow slowly and steadily until his summer celebrations.  Fingers crossed!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Happy Days!

Are you singing the US sitcom tune now?  Goodbye grey sky, hello blue ....

Nothing much to do with the Fonz, these Happy Days are the name of Sarah Fielke's new BOM which is due to start on 31 Jan 2016.  (Still time to sign up at Sarah's website.)

It felt like a great idea when I was all mellow and rested over the Christmas holidays to sign up to Sarah's new Block of the Month - a piecing, appliqué and EPP project.  It seemed to fit in with my plans to just sew as I fancy this year and try something new too (step down piecing will be new to me, though I'm sure some other skills will be too).  I think I was enticed by more appliqué which I started last year on the Quilt Now BoM and maybe committing to a program will make me actually do it.

I love pulling fabric for new projects, don't you?  For this quilt I'm going to try a variety of low volume backgrounds, mostly white or grey based rather than cream, and a selection of pretties which are nearly all Lori Holt or other Riley Blake prints.  A 'Happy Days' quilt needs happy colours, doesn't it?

There's no point pretending I will be able to keep up with this BoM but I will try to do what I can and ENJOY it without pressure.  Actually, I'm very excited about getting started because I know from having watched one of Sarah's Craftsy classes that she explains techniques so clearly that it's a pleasure to have a go afterwards.

Bring it on!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Dear Jane - starting to stitch: G-7

Having decided that I will work from the centre outwards of the Dear Jane quilt, I started with block G-7.  In case you don't know already,  the block layout of this quilt is 13 x 13 blocks surrounded by a border of triangle blocks.  The centre of 13 x 13 blocks are known by their position reference in terms of row (letters A - M) and columns (numbers 1 - 13).  So G-7 is slap bang in the middle and it's where I make my first stitches.

Of course, G-7 couldn't have been a nice wee straight line pattern, could it?  No.  Quarter circles to begin with!  Well, it's a year of giving things a go, so I did.  In the end the curves were no different really from EPPing apple core curves.  It's the teeny weeny squares and rectangles that required the most patience.

My very first attempt at this block ended in a less than satisfactory result after adding the borders and cornerstones by EPP.  I had a quick rethink, pulled out the scissors and seam ripper and decided that perhaps I'd get a neater result if I trimmed the EPP block and added the borders and cornerstones by machine.  This time the finish was much better.  So, that'll be the plan from here on in.  A wee bit of EPP for the pieced blocks but tidying up with machine finishing.

I'm going to try to work my block colours in a sort of Around The World fashion in a diamond direction and this pretty orange print is one of my favourites from my selection so centre stage it is.  The background fabrics for all of my blocks will be a variety of white on white print designs, but the sashing fabric will all be one particular white on white print.

I've chosen this wavy line print from Simply Solids. It's called Ramblings Linea, and it's really lovely.  I hope you can see it on the photo.  I know that white on white prints are not everyone's cup of tea, though I think they might be slightly more acceptable now since the low volume vibe took hold.  Anyway, I thought the linear design on this print might work well on small sashing pieces.  Time will tell I guess.

Eager to keep going I moved on to my second block which begins like this -

but after all that weeny piecing I haven't made it any further yet.  My eyes are in need of recovery time!!

So, there you have it, my Dear Jane start.  Only small, but it's a start, right?

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

New Arrival Star Quilt

A new niece arrived in the world last week and as we all know babies need to have quilts of their own, so I needed to get my skates on and whip her up a wee star quilt.

I decided on a one block quilt which I have been wanting to make for ages.  A quick fabric pull, some maths and I was off.

The units are 4.5" square.  I would have gone to slightly bigger units except that my fabrics wouldn't have stretched that far.

I worked up each quarter at a time which made it very manageable. At 32.5" square I thought it was just a little small so I added three narrow borders, 0.5" white, 0.5" lilac and finally 1" white.  Again, the sizes of my borders were dictated by how much fabric I had left

36" square:  Not a great 3.22 am photo of the finish!

This quilt is a really quick make if time is on your side.  I did hit a few snags in my week and ended up pulling a really, really late night on Saturday to finish it.  But, it was done and gifted on Sunday to a sweet little black haired bundle in her daddy's arms.  Job done!

I'm a little amazed that I have a finish this year and it's still only January!  What happened to my plans to make this the year of starts?  Oh don't worry about that, I will have lots of starts to share with you in the coming days ;-)

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