Thursday 31 October 2013

Handquilted Sampler Update

Guess what?

I have finished handquilting ALL of my hipBees sampler blocks.


The last stage of the hand quilting was to stitch a single line border all the way around the quilt.  I am dying to show it to you properly, but for now you can just see how much fun the back looks.  When I get time to add a hanging sleeve and drill some holes in my dining room wall, I will be back for a proper reveal!

Sunday 27 October 2013

Disappearing Four Patch Cushion

The big question today is, why did I never try this before?

Reminds me of Opal Fruits (or Starburst for you young 'uns)

Seriously, how did I not realise that it was such a nice finish to conceal the zip in the cushion backing this way and quite straightforward to do?  What's even more terrible is that my great friend Judith has a fab tutorial showing exactly how it should be done and I have only just tried it for the first time this week!  Sometimes I am slow on the uptake, I tell you. I did line my backing but that bit was easy peasy to add to Judith's lovely clear instructions.

 So, here is the finished article.  A 24" disappearing four patch cushion.

Lightly handquilted in perle cottons.

Fabrics selected to tone in with a Scrumptious layer cake which will become a very simple quilt one of these days. I am just itching to get at it but better wait until there's a finish on my red and cream hipbees quilt - now there's motivation if ever I heard it!

So, here's what I learned on this project -

1. I really like the disappearing 4 patch (d4p) block.
2. I learned how to calculate fabric requirements the d4p block.
3. I think the d4p pattern looks much better in a larger quilt - the secondary patterns are distorted a little on the curve of the cushion which you don't get on the flat expanse of a quilt. And, of course, on a quilt you have more blocks to show off the pattern in.
4. Concealed zip backings aren't anywhere near as difficult as I thought.
5. Maybe it would have looked better if I'd finished it with binding rather than just sewing up and turning through.

All in all though, I'm happy enough with my experiment and even more thrilled that the colours work well with the Scrumptious fabrics.

PS If you have large scale print fabrics that you want to use but don't want to chop up into weeny pieces and lose the look, I think that a larger version of the disappearing four patch block would be ideal for showcasing them.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Remember this?

This is my blue and white Kaleidoscope quilt which I started during Don't Call Me Betsy's QAL in Summer 2011.

Admittedly, for various reasons, it took me until late Spring 2012 to finish this one but it's one of my very favourite quilts ever.

I've gone and entered it in the Quilting Gallery's Show and Tell for two colour quilts this week.  So, if you fancied voting for it you might just hop on over there ....  If you do, you will need to scroll quite a way down the post to find the thumbnail photos of the entries and then a little bit further down again is the voting list.

Thanks for your votes last time for the Sweet Sixteen Disappearing 9 Patch quilt in the Teen Quilts Show and Tell.  It wasn't a rip-roaring success (bottom 25% placement) but it was fun to see all the entries and have a go!

Friday 25 October 2013

The Time Has Come ...

... to break into my precious red and white stash of fabric and finally start a quilt!

Oh how I love thee!
As I've told you before, I've been picking up red and white fabrics in various sales for the past two years (and been gifted some lovelies too).  They've been hoarded in a box while I gathered enough and waited for the perfect pattern to drop into my lap.  So, what "perfect pattern" has made me take the rotary cutter to my lovelies?

Well, thing is I don't have one.  What I do have is a long-held wish to have a medallion quilt, which started long before even the fabulous Marcelle Medallion and Sarah Fielke Medallion phenomena of recent months.  So, a medallion quilt it is!

I don't have a pattern in mind, just going to make a start (yes, another one) and see where it takes me.  No doubt it shall take me by way of some fiddly maths, but that's all part of my challenge!

As my centre block, I used Little Miss Shabby's Super-sized Morning Star instructions.

Everything was going swimmingly until

I didn't read the instruction that said "orient as illustrated" for those central flying geese blocks up there - doh!

So, instead of a starflower where the fabric points of the stars matched with each other, I inadvertently switched them around.  I huffed and I puffed and I sighed and I reached reluctantly for the seam ripper.  And, then I thought "I've seen that star before" and headed to the bookshelf to check.

And, what do you know, I have seen it before and it's got my name on it!  See?  "Sarah's Choice."

It seemed churlish to take a seam ripper to those points when this block kind of chose me so I left well alone and finished stitching her up.  So I now have a medallion beginning - woohoo!!!

Who knows what borders I'll add next - stripes with cornerstones, checkerboards, hsts (aaagh), pinwheels, stars or crosses?  Blimey, the choices are so exciting.  I'm looking forward to letting this one grow as I go!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Making Magnus Proud

... and alleviating some pressure!

You know that I was feeling a little overwhelmed because I've had lots of starts and not so many finishes lately?  I worked out that a lot of that has to do with a build up of small projects and quite a number of handstitching projects (not all of which I've shown you yet).

But, I am clearing them up little by little, and Magnus's credo "I've started so I'll finish"  (see this post for explanation of reference) is beginning to be a little more true than of late.

Last weekend, I managed to add the finishing cuffs and hanging tabs to the Christmas stockings for the exhibition day sale.  All five bunting sets were also finished after stringing them with satin ribbon. They looked suitably pretty, although I forgot to get a piccy before adding them to the sale stocks we are collecting together.

Sneaky peek

I have also been working hard on some little stitcheries and am relieved to have them completed and tidied up now too.  I cannot reveal them just yet but will do when my book is published in three or four weeks time!   Gotcha!  I'm kidding about the book of course, but there is some fun and excitement for me so I'm looking forward to sharing the full pic with you before too long.

While not a finish, I have made progress on the disappearing four patch floor cushion.  The perles were calling to me from the corner of the room, so I obliged by handquilting coloured flowers in the white spaces and white flowers where the coloured corners converge (though you cannot see these in my pics).  I am hoping to work out how to put a concealed zipper in the backing and then I can cross this one off my list too!

Lest you think I've forgotten about the hipBees sampler, rest assured that I am making progress there too, with four more blocks quilted, leaving just four more to go.  I need to get piccies to share with you.

So. it seems a little bit of a reality check has motivated me to get my act together and move things on a bit.  Need to keep at it and hope for a few more finishes sooner rather than later.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

hipBees blocks for Miss October

Reene has been our Queen Bee for hipBees this month.  Poor darling has been recovering from surgery and post-op infections and I'm sure that fabric parcels were really the last thing she wanted to be thinking about this month, but trooper that she is, little bundles of Denyse Schmidt scraps were duly delivered for us too ogle and drool over.

Of course, Reene naturally wanted blocks in return for the eye candy experience and she asked for some help finishing blocks on a project she started a while back.  We were each to make her eight 5" string blocks - 4 straight, 4 on the diagonal - with specified colourway instructions.  Once I had confirmed the placement of the solid strips in the blocks, these were really fun to stitch together.  The centre of the block remains empty as Reene had each of us write a siggy block which she is planning to piece into the centre square like this.

I am really looking forward to the reveal of this quilt in due course - I think it will be a feast for the eyes, especially is you are a DS lover!

Keep recovering Reene!

Monday 21 October 2013

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".

Friday 18 October 2013

SIblings Together Blocks - still coming

More lovelies to share for the Siblings Together Block Drive.

from Catherine
from Tina

from Caroline

from Sue
A great mixture of bolds and brights and some neutrals for balance in all of these blocks.  Thank you all so much, Ladies, for taking time to make and send these blocks on for the Block Drive quilts.

The end of the October deadline for the blocks is now in sight and this pretty pile of gorgeous blocks is reminding me that before too long I will be on my knees laying out and switching and swapping blocks for two boy quilt tops.  It will be exciting to see how they look when they come together!

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