Thursday 31 January 2013

Block Tutorial - Road to Tennessee

If you've popped over from Judith's blog to see what February's Bee Blessed block is, I hope you'll like it!  It's a scrappy version of the "Road to Tennessee".

We're going to work this block with white solid and bright scraps with a view to creating some more children's quilts for donation to a Belfast Mother and Baby HIV Unit.  I hope you'll join with us in having a go at this month's block. (If you are used to making siggy blocks for other Bees, you should find this is pretty much the same deal but with reverse placement of the fabrics).

So enough waffle from me and on with the tutorial.  Rotary cutters at the ready!

Use scant 0.25" seam throughout.

Cut 16 squares 3.5" x 3.5" in bright coloured fabrics.
Cut 32 squares  2" x 2" in plain white solid.

Draw a diagonal line in pencil on the wrong side of each white square.

Sorry about the late night blur.

Take one white square and lay it right sides together on top of one of your coloured fabrics lining it up to the top right hand corner.  I have laid the ruler to show the direction your diagonal pencil line should run.  Sew along the diagonal line.  (Just a wee note if you happen to be using directional prints:  once the white corners have been stitched this will restrict where you can place the unit within the overall block design, so if you need it to sit in a particular direction you might need to work out which opposing corners to stitch the white squares to.)

 Repeat with all remaining coloured squares by chain piecing.

 Trim away the excess fabric 0.25" from the stitching line as shown. Repeat for all squares.

Press the seam towards the coloured fabric. Repeat for all squares.

Now take the remaining white squares and align them right sides together with the opposite corner of your remaining coloured squares.  Stitch along the diagonal line, trim away the excess and press seam towards the coloured fabric in exactly the same way as before.  Trim each unit to 3.5" square if necessary.

You should now have sixteen 3.5" squares with one pair of opposite white corners.  Decide on your layout remembering to take care if you have directional prints you want to end up a particular way.

Piece into pairs and then into 4 four patch units remembering that with each pair you should press seams in alternate directions to allow your intersecting seams to butt more easily.

These larger four patch units can then be stitched once again into pairs, pressing seams in alternate directions to allow beautiful butts (!) when you make the final row join.

And finally, trim to 12.5" square and breathe!

Hope this all makes sense, apols for some of the dodgy photos - it's so hard to tell at night whether the pics have taken clearly.  Any questions, please ask.

Looking forward to seeing your fab scrappy Road to Tennessee blocks!

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Sew Many Plans - February 2013

Looking back on January, I wondered how I managed to post 17 times (18 now) with the little sewing I did this month.  Seems I was in a chatty mood, sharing my pre-Christmas gift makes, lots of Bee Blessed news and posting my new weekly Making Me Smile pics.

Everything I had planned was achieved or progressed and I even snuck in a wee taggy tutorial and a recycled shorts pouch and watch keeper tray for DS.  There was also unexpected progress on the recycled shirts quilt which is now calling to me from the sewing room begging for me to finish the other half of the quilting.  Soon, soon my friend ...

So February's sewing plans have kind of been shaping themselves and look like this.

HipBees - Mama Bee Di is this month's hipBees Queen Bee and has chosen a fabulous wild flying geese block for us to tackle in her gorgeous Ruby fabrics.  Can't wait for her wee parcel to arrive to get trying it out!

Bee Blessed - No doubt there will be plenty of Bee Blessed activity to contribute to this month.

Squares and Strips Recycled Shirts Quilt - I have a wee son who is looking longingly at his half-quilted humdinger, so I'd really like to get this one finished for him soon.  Threads have just arrived, and I'm waiting on some binding fabric which I hope will be suitable!

Special Birthday Sampler Quilt - I'm hoping to make a further two blocks for this sampler quilt this month to keep steady progress on this project.

Hexagon Quilt - this handstitching progress is always slow but last month I did work at it steadily and the hexagon border for the back of the quilt is coming together.  I would love to finish stitching it to the quilt and maybe even manage to baste and prepare the quilt in anticipation of hand-quilting in March.  Too ambitious? Perhaps, we'll see.

Crocheted Snood - I did start this snood and keep working at it but it never seems to reach it's final length!  I'm sure it will and this month I have some exciting hours pencilled in to sit through swimming lessons again so hopefully I'll finish it too.

Hmmm, better stop blogging and get sewing methinks!

Hope you have a great February of stitching ahead.

Sunday 27 January 2013

It's a humdinger!

Remember those 88 blocks I made from recycled shirts following the Squares and Strips Pattern? Well, DS and I spent a fun hour a week or so ago laying out all 88 into his quilt design.

Up until now, most of the quilts I have made have been lap quilts of a small/medium size with the largest measuring just 52" x 66".  To me, that was pretty big.  But this humdinger was planned to be for a single bed and is 64" x 88".  

To say that I knew in my head the expected measurements of this quilt but hadn't really translated that into quilt on floor space is an understatement, and I am learning lots about big quilts in this process.  

So big I can't get it all in the picture!

When I did get it all in, you can't really see it properly!
I have learned that while moving 20 blocks around for balanced placement can be tricky, 88 is a nightmare!!  DS did join in, scratching his head as he moved one block and learned that it can have a knock-on moving effect on 5 others.  After more head scratching and lots of laughter, we decided it was as good as it would get and checked a quick photo on the laptop to see if anything jumped out at us.  Nope.  Great.  Good to mark up into rows and lay away for joining another time.

Yesterday, "another time" arrived courtesy of some cancelled plans and this little birdie took to the sewing room for some peace and therapy.  There I learned that big quilts aren't therapy, they're endurance tests!  But endure I did, and it was so worth it to see DS's wee face as his quilt top came back downstairs in one piece.

He even helped me baste it and find a backing - I think he's secretly hopeful that I might get on with it faster if he helps where he can!

There then ensued a silent meltdown (so as not to disappoint DS) as I contemplated the 6" throat space of my machine and the acres of this quilt which would need to pass through it.  I began to feel a wiggle coming on. (As in wiggly, wavy line quilting in case you're wondering.)

And so, the third thing I've learned about big quilts is THEY EAT THREAD WHEN QUILTING!!  One and a half spools of thread and this baby is now officially resting on my ironing board until new supplies can be obtained.  How did I not anticipate this?  I only made it to the halfway point, too!  It was such a shame not to be able to keep going and finish the quilting while I was "in the zone", but hopefully I won't have to wait too long to continue the newly named "humdinger" quilt.

All in all very satisfactory progress for an afternoon when I didn't expect to have any sewing time!

Saturday 26 January 2013

Bright and Beautiful

Whipped up another wee crazy scrappy block on the side of some other stitching, this time in orange.  Isn't it tangy?

I couldn't resist laying out all my scrappies so far.  Oh how I love how bright and fun these look!  Still thinking these would be great with navy sashing, but I'll hide them away until I've made some more to swell the ranks a little.

It's fun gathering these!

Friday 25 January 2013

Making Me Smile - 4/52

This week has been so white and bereft of colour but these little beauties from a friend have just come into full glorious colour with the opening of the fabulous lilies.  Definitely cause for a smile!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Bee Blessed Update

At Bee Blessed we are always overwhelmed by the generosity and beauty of our blogger members' block donations, not to mention the wonderful fabrics you send our way for using, too.  As we had a number of quilts come to completion and move on to be donated at the end of 2012, we thought you might like to hear a little bit about some of them since you wonderful folks have played a major part in blessing the lives of others by supporting us in this venture.

This quilt was made from all the amazing converging corners blocks that were pieced for us last summer.  Although it can be hard to picture a converging corners quilt when you work just one block yourself, I hope you will agree that this quilt makes quite a funky statement.  Can you see your block here or maybe just catch one edge of it draped over the back of the table?  When one of our regular and dedicated members had to have a spell in hospital, we decided to cheer her up by sending her our thoughts and best wishes for her recuperation in the form of this quilt.

Your Very Square Like Me blocks have been pieced into this beautiful, cheerful quilt which was passed on to a young widowed mother of 6 who is doing an amazing job struggling with the demands of her life.  So sorry that the pic is fuzzy, I wish you could see it in its true glory.  Here's just part of the response we received from the quilt's recipient -

Believe me, you can't imagine how precious it is for me!  It is beautiful and not just because how it does look but how and why it was made!  Thank you so much to think about me, about us! Please, pass my thanks and greetings to all the "Girls" who made it for us!!! 

Several of the quilts (the next three photos) that have been finished up in the past three months or so have been gifted to older folks who are suffering from the confusion and often loneliness of dementia illnesses or early on-set alzheimers.

Whilst there is a sadness in the stories of the folks who have received these quilts, there has also been something very touching in the responses to all three of them.  The Amy Butler quilt above was gifted to a lady who often cannot recall the names of the relatives and loved ones who visit and care for her.  Yet, on the visit after she had been given the quilt the lady's face lit up and she associated her visitor with the quilt - " Yes, you brought me that quilt".  This small recognition in a world of confusion is a tiny light and brought some pleasure to her visiting family too.

The lady recipient of this blue/aqua/lemon scrappy D9P was extremely touched that a group of others would think of her and was very keen that all of the other residents of her nursing home should know that Bee Blessed had made her a gift of a quilt.  Do you see how your efforts are making people feel remembered during times that are difficult for them?

The Swoon quilt was also gifted to an elderly lady who lives alone and suffers from confusion/dementia.  Passed on by one of our Bee members, this was what she had to say about the response to the gifted quilt -

She loved the colours and thought the whole thing was really beautiful....  
she’s even planning to have it out in the garden next year ‘when it gets a bit
drafty’!    It made her day just getting a gift like that out of the blue and so
 unexpected she said.   The Bee Blessed card she’s popped up on her mantelpiece.
 As I left she shouted over the hedge to tell you all how much she appreciated it.

The light in this photograph does not do the warmth and richness of the colours of this autumnal rail fence quilt justice.  I promise you that it is much prettier than you might think.  There were many nods of appreciation of this quilt once finished, even from those of us whose fabric choices would normally be much more modern.  Destined for an elderly couple who have opened and dedicated their lives to helping and supporting others in their times of need, Bee Blessed made a gift of this quilt to the couple at a time when their own life is getting a little harder.  Once again, this couple have treasured the thoughtfulness of receiving something that many people have had a part in making for them.

If we have learned anything from the experience of hosting and co-ordinating Bee Blessed this past 18mths it is that the gift of a quilt seems to resonate somewhere deep in folks that we cannot really comprehend.  After all, as we knew from the outset, a quilt doesn't change things or make the difficult situations go away but somehow, every quilt we have made together as a Bee has touched someone's life.  And that, my dear fellow Bees, is what it's all about.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for sharing the journey with us!

I hope you will continue to join with us having fun in contributing a wee block or two when you can to create these quilts of brightness.

If you haven't joined us before, you can find more info on Bee Blessed here or here.

Don't forget our flickr group too. Keep a wee eye here for many of the other lovely finished quilts as they are uploaded.

Friday 18 January 2013

Making Me Smile - 3/52

Big smile this week for sale fabric arrivals - courtesy of some Christmas money and Pink Castle Fabrics.

Orange yummies, Marmalade lovelies and a few wee extras for fun!

Thursday 17 January 2013

All About My Boy

This post is all about stitching for my wee son, who in all honesty is getting to be not so "wee" anymore.  It was this realisation that made me interrupt planned sewing to accommodate his request for two post-Christmas makes.  After all, one of these days he's going to waken up and think that it's not really cool to want items stitched by mum!

So, when he asked very politely if he could have a wee bedside table holder for his new watch and if I could make a larger pencil case/pouch that would hold all of the chargers and earphones his various gadgets are accumulating, mum got on the case (terrible pun, I know).

We had a fun few minutes choosing fabrics for these items - no messing around for hours making decisions like his mum!

We decided to recycle a pair of last summer's shorts which already have a handy dandy pocket on (bit less work for me) suitable for keeping delicate earphones separate from destructive plug pins.  Then I think he was channelling an inner retro, slightly hippy groove, when he chose the camper van fabric to go with a wee piece of denim for his watch tray and the lining for his pouch, and he was very keen that the zip on the pouch would be bright and zingy next to the dark camouflage of his old shorts.  Like a man who knows what he wants!

These wee makes got a great big smile and a big hug too - definitely worth taking some time for my precious boy.

His recycled shirt quilt has had some progress this week too.

Last time I left this quilt I thought I had just about six 16 patch blocks to make but I seem to have miscounted a little and I actually needed eleven.  Anyway, now it's confession time - I gave up on the remaining 16 patches after five and used up some larger squares to create four patches to finish the quota of 88 blocks.  Yep, I cheated!  And, I don't care (how daring am I?).  The four patches will look great mixed in with the other blocks and actually, now I'm only sorry I didn't make up some more of these for the quilt.  In any case, I now have 88 blocks to trim, layout and piece into a top.

As was always the plan for this quilt, it was to be a slow time project, but now that DS has seen the blocks finished he's keen to see it come together.  Perhaps one afternoon while he's bored I can convince him to help me play with layouts for all those blocks!

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