Saturday, 19 October 2013

More Like Magnus

I am beginning to feel the need to be a little more like Magnus Magnusson this week - "I've started so I'll finish". I seem to have made an alarming number of starts recently and I'm now feeling a little overwhelmed by the unfinished projects hanging around my sewing space.

But, in my best head in the sand approach today, I'm going to share another start with you anyway.

Karen's blocks for my hipBees quilt

Back in May, Karen sent me these lovely double four patch blocks for my month as Queen hipBee and ever since, I've been intrigued by the pattern possibilities.  Then, recently when I saw this beautiful quilt on Pinterest, I knew that this was a must do pattern for me.  Not quite having the capacity for a quilt of them just now, I've settled for making a 24" cushion cover instead.

I chose some lovely bright prints, paired them with kona snow and set to work.

Orange print block cutting didn't give quite the dimensions I was looking for on the smaller strips,
but the red one is much better.
I did have to experiment with the cutting a little to achieve the block I wanted but it didn't take much to get there in the end.

I set my blocks on my smallest cutting mat so I could turn the mat and not the fabric to make my cuts.

If you haven't seen a disappearing four patch block before it works by taking a regular four patch and making two cuts either side of each centre seam to create a nine patch.  You then just lift and switch the centre pieces of the top and bottom rows, and switch the first and last piece of the centre row to give you your new nine patch layout.  Stitch them together the regular way and hey presto, you have a disappearing four patch!  (Hope that made sense.)

By trial and error, I learned that with this block you will lose 0.75" in the seams on each quadrant of the four patch. So, in case you are interested in making some yourself, here's how to figure out what size squares to start with:

work out the unfinished size of your block - in my case 6.5"
divide it by 2 to find the unfinished block quadrant size - 6.5" / 2 = 3.25"
add 0.75" seam allowances - 3.25" + 0.75" = 4" starting squares

You could also go a little larger when making the blocks and simply trim them down if you are worried about accuracy.  Just remember to centre them well when trimming.

If you use this calculation method, please, please test it first rather than cutting an entire quilt's worth of blocks and then discovering my method didn't quite stack up.  I did try it for three different sizes of block and it worked a treat, but I am nervous to assure you that it's foolproof.

16 x 6.5" square disappearing four patch blocks
So, when you've done the easy peasy maths and whipped yourself up a stack of pretty blocks (and pressed a whack of seams, I must admit) you will have the fun of laying them out to stitch up into your project.

As you can see from this close up, my seams don't meet perfectly but I'm just going to ignore that bit this time.  What I love about the pattern is the secondary patterns and framings you get when the blocks are laid together.  In a bigger quilt the conjunction of the neutral solid corners could be a problem if you don't want loads of negative space in your quilt, but it also provides nice areas to perform quilting magic in.  It is these framed areas that appeal so much to me in this design - both the kona snow areas and the multi-colour four patches - but the best effect of the pattern is achieved from a distance I think, not close up.

The perle cottons practically jumped out of my box and begged to be used in the snow centres, so how can I resist?  Handquilting it shall be which will be very useful as a cushion finish in my living room and as a handquilting sample for another purpose in the new year. Eventually, it will be a win, win but for now, onto the "awaiting finishes" pile it goes!

See, all these starts and no finishes?  There are just too many beautiful, inspirational quilting designs around!  I think I need blinkers like the race horses wear to keep me focussed on just one thing at a time before I start to drive myself crazy!

Hmmm, perhaps next week I shall be better at channelling my inner Magnus.

PS For those not in the UK or more alarmingly, of a younger generation, who don't understand the reference to Magnus Magnusson - he was the host of the long running BBC quiz series Mastermind during my youth, and if the buzzer sounded when he was mid question he would say "I've started so I'll finish".


  1. I absolutely love this sort of block that is simple but really clever. And I like the white space it gives - somewhere for the eye to rest. I also always thought Magnus' s parents were a bit sick naming him that. Could they not think of a better first name? *g*

  2. Very pretty! I ended up counting all my WIPs at the start of the year and found an alarming number kicking about (it ended up over 40) I've knocked a good chunk off this year, partly by sewing, and one or two I gave away to become someone else's WIP ;o)

  3. gorgeous! lovely bit of inspiration from Karen!

  4. I love the colours and that photo with the perle sitting there waiting to be used makes me smile so much!

  5. Oh you mean there are people who don't know the genius of Magnus Magnusson!? I feel old!

  6. I love this pattern, and the fabrics you've used. Jxo

  7. thanks for sharing this, I have done a disappearing nine patch which is one of my favourite blocks and now have learnt from you that it works with a four patch too, will have a play as I really love the effect it gives

  8. Fabulous fabrics Sarah, and the cushion cover is looking amazing

  9. This is a lovely block and I have never made it. I am putting it on my list.


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