Friday 29 November 2013

This week's efforts

This week I have been monkeying around 

and the builders have been in ...

I tried to (sort of) make a start thinking about Christmas and the lists of things that need done.  My sewing list was empty for quite a while as I declared (to myself) I wasn't going to do the handmade Christmas thing / put myself under the pressure this year.  But I'm not very strong willed and now my list is looking rather healthier than I had wanted!

Meet Charlie, my first ever sock monkey, so named for his rather impressive ears.  I'm sure he will be renamed, if named at all, by his new owner once gifted.  Inspired by Indianna Dreams' recent post, he was a trial just to see if I could actually make one of these things.  I had an idea that if he was successful I'd have a go at making some more for the girls on my Christmas list.  Now that I'm happy that I know what I'm doing, even though I might reduce his ears a bit and try to eliminate the lumpy bumpy cellulite effect on his legs,  there is a 3 pack of girls' socks awaiting my attention for early December.

The builders may have trailed out all sorts of gubbins and created chaos in the sewing room but it was all in aid of these wee cuties.  All three will be gifted (even if they would look nice on my tree when we put it up) as a Secret Santa, hostess gift and the middle one will be the tree decoration to accompany my Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland Table Runner swap efforts.  Couple more ticks off the list!  (The swap runner is almost complete, hope to show you that soon.)

ETA - I forgot to list the tutorial for the little houses when I posted originally.  It's the Home for the Holidays tutorial by retro-mama and there's a very handy pdf pattern linked in her tute too.  I printed it at 75% to make the houses a wee bit smaller, though next time I'd probably just stick to the original size.

Tonight I am turning my attention to this sweet stack of fabric.  There has been a new arrival in my extended family and a quilt has been promised.  The brief from baby's granny (my aunt) is that the fabrics should be soft autumnal colours since the nursery has little woodland creatures and owls featuring.  I think (hope) that this lot will fit in nicely and there is a gorgeous gold fox flannel fabric for the backing but I don't know where the pic went.  Anyway, I'd best get on with it if I'm ever going to get through a baby quilt and a Christmas list in the next few weeks!

Hope your list is filled with fun things to be stitching and not too much stress - who am I kidding?

Thursday 28 November 2013

Making Me Smile - 48/52

I have been researching some local churches lately and when I came across this image (which is the logo for Lisburn Cathedral) I immediately thought what a fabulous modern quilt this would make. This crazy hobby obsession makes me smile, though perhaps I'd do better to be worried about myself!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Scrumptious Brick Layer Cake Quilt Pattern

At the beginning of the month when I was being much better at starting projects than finishing them, my Scrumptious layer cake was calling to be whipped up into a quick quilt top. Honest, it was!

Initially, my plan was just to lay out the 42 squares into a 6 x 7 arrangement, stitch them up and be done. However, I did have a wee pang that maybe these lovely fabrics deserved a bit more consideration, though I really didn't want to cut the layer cake squares up too much, thus losing size in lots of seams.  So with a wee bit of simple cutting I present to you my "Brick Layer Cake" quilt top.

measures 54" x 67.5"

Updated 2019:  Folks, there has been a little resurgence of interest in this quilt.  Please note that I am still very happy to send you the free pdf instructions for this quilt, but I cannot send them to you if you are a no-reply blogger because I will have no way of contacting you.  If you are a no reply blogger, please leave an email address in your comment.  If you have previously requested this pdf and I didn't send it, this is likely the reason.  I haven't been ignoring you!

I love this wee quilt top and so,  pre-emtping some festive generosity, I thought I'd share the pattern with you.  It is a fantastic way to use up a layer cake with minimal waste.  Look, this is all you will have left over from making up your top -

- two layer cake squares and a few end pieces, along with some 0.5" trimmings.  Now, isn't that an economical use of your layer cake?

Please note that because I didn't have the foresight of sharing this pattern, I didn't manage to capture "in progress" photos, so this isn't a picture tutorial for the quilt, just pattern instructions.  I have assumed the basics of quilt making knowledge - which you all have anyway.  If you do have any questions, I will try to answer them for you.

So, here goes ...

The Brick Layer Cake Pattern

quilt finishes - 54" x 67.5" approx

You will need:
1 layer cake (you will use 40 of these 10" squares)
0.5m fabric for inner borders (you will actually use 13.75" x FWOF)
0.5m fabric for binding
backing and wadding to fit quilt

All stitching assumes 0.25" seam allowance.

1.  Remove two squares from your layer cake and lay aside.  You will not be using these squares.

2.  Cut the remaining 40 layer cake squares in half, ie cut them 5" wide. You will now have 80 pieces of half layer cake squares (5" x 10").

3.  From these 80 pieces choose 4 pieces which will become the medium bricks required for your outer border.  Cut these 4 pieces to measure 7.25" x 5" and leave them aside for now.  (You will not need the excesses that you cut off from these.)  You now have 4 medium bricks.

4.  Choose another 4 of your half layer cake pieces.  These will become the small bricks which fill in the gaps at the top and bottom of the columns in the centre panel of the quilt top.  Cut these 4 pieces into 5" squares and leave them aside.  You will now have 8 small bricks.

5.  Trim all of the remaining 72 half layer cake pieces to 9.5" x 5".  You now have 72 large bricks.

6.  From the 0.5m piece of fabric you have for your inner border (mine is the solid fabric), cut 5 strips measuring 2.75" x FWOF.  Leave two of these strips aside as the top and bottom pieces and stitch the remaining three together.  Now cut this triple length strip to half its length - the resulting two pieces will be your two inner side borders.

Now you are ready to lay out your quilt top.  Hopefully this little diagram will be helpful in showing you where the different sized bricks should be placed.

7.  The centre panel of the quilt top is made up of 9 columns laid out as you would offset bricks.  So, the odd numbered columns have 6 large bricks each, while the even numbered columns are made from 5 large bricks plus two small bricks each.  Lay out as desired.

8.  Lay out your top and bottom inner border pieces and the side inner border pieces too.

9.  For each side brick border you will need to layout 5 large brick pieces plus a medium brick piece at the top and bottom of the border strip.

10.  For the top and bottom brick borders you will need to layout 6 large brick pieces for each border.

I didn't lay out the inner borders but just left space for them.

11.  Now it's time to label and gather up the sections of your quilt top for stitching.  Start by labelling your top and bottom borders and your side borders (label them right and left) and gather them carefully to retain your fabric placement.  Then, leave your inner border strips aside and finally label each column of the central panel 1 - 9 and gather them carefully into column piles.

Time to get stitching!

12.  Begin by piecing the bricks as gathered for columns 1 - 9 into column strips.  Press the seams of each strip in the same direction (towards the bottom of the strip).

13. Now pin and piece the columns together to form your central panel of columns 1 - 9.  Press all seams in one direction.

14.  Pin and stitch the top and bottom inner border strips to your central panel, trimming away any excess length of the border fabric.

15.  In the same way, add the inner side border pieces to the left and right of your central panel, again trimming away the excess of the border fabric.

16.  The next step is to piece together the brick borders for your quilt top.  Take the border pieces that you labelled and gathered earlier for the top and bottom and each side border and piece them into the required strips, pressing the seams of each strip in one direction.

17.  The left and right borders should be stitched to the quilt first.  Carefully pin these lengths in place and stitch to secure.  Press the seam away from the centre of the quilt.

18.  Pin and stitch the top and bottom brick borders into position, again pressing the seam away from the centre of the quilt.

Now you should have a quilt top that looks like mine in the photograph.  Pretty, isn't it?

To finish your quilt:

19.  Cut or piece fabric large enough for your backing (the quilt should measure 54" x 67.5" approx).

20.  Cut wadding to size.

21.  Baste your layers together in your normal way.

22.  Quilt as desired.

23.  Bind your quilt (you will need to join 6 strips cut at 2.5" x FWOF).

Eh voila!  You have whipped up a Brick Layer Cake Quilt and can now feel deservedly pleased!

I really hope you enjoy this pattern if you try it and would love to hear about it if you do.  Any resemblance to any other layer cake quilt patterns out there is purely accidental - I truly did just sit down one evening and figure out the calculations myself.

If you would like a pdf version of these instructions, please just ask in the comments and make sure you are not a no-reply blogger. If you are a no-reply blogger I cannot contact you unless you leave me an email address to forward the pdf pattern to.

As you can see from my pics I've been held up at the end of step 18, but I will show you pics when I eventually finish it.  Like I said, I was better at starting than finishing!!

Saturday 23 November 2013

Mystery Medallion - Border 3

After last week's geese-a-thon, I thought I'd keep it simple for the next border on my medallion quilt.   I wanted to introduce a stronger red border this time and kept it to plain strips with cornerstones (like border 1 but with different measurements).

Close up to show the last of the three Westfalen fabrics I have to use in this quilt.  This border has the skipping children (least that's what they look like to me).  You can see the other two if you look diagonally in towards the centre - the trees and ducks and the horses.  These were a cute pressie from J and now I've got them all safely treasured in my lovely developing quilt top.


Here's what I did

Border 3 - bringing unfinished size up to 36.5" square
Single fabric border with contrasting cornerstones.
Cut 4:  2.5" squares for cornerstones
Cut 4:  2.5" x 32.5" for border strips

If you fancied stopping here, this quilt, now measuring 36.5" square, would make a pretty baby quilt or a small wallhanging.  Tempted as I am to avoid the next round of calculations, I will press on. Though I think the next border will be a lot more time consuming than this one!

Remember if you think you might have a go at your own version of this medallion, I am capturing all the "how to's" for up there at the Mystery Medallion Quilt tab.

Friday 22 November 2013

UFO no more!

I am delighted to announce that my Hopscotch Quilt is a UFO no more!

Fandango, Kate Spain

Since August 2012 this pretty quilt top has sat all nicely folded on a shelf, patiently awaiting some attention. So a couple of weekends ago I got the quilt basted and left it where I had to trip over it regularly as a reminder that I needed to actually do something about finishing it!

Some outline quilting and binding later and I am so delighted to remove Hopscotch from my UFO and WIPs list. (I have tried to get a decent pic for the last few days but there's either no light or harsh light, so these are as good as it gets.)

As you can see the quilt is already in use since the temperatures have plummeted this week!

 Hopscotch pattern by Camille Roskelly, Thimble Blossoms.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Making Me Smile - 47/52

There is no explanation other than that hubby decided to play with my binding clips while I was stitching.  He makes me smile!  (These are all hanging off his eyebrows!!!)

Sunday 17 November 2013

Making Me Smile - 46/52


The smell of Christmas Cake wafting through the house is making me smile (and hungry) today. Mmmmmmmm ....


Friday 15 November 2013

Mystery Medallion Quilt - Border 2

This week I've had the calculator out again to do the maths for the second border on my Mystery Medallion Quilt.  I left the quilt at 24.5" unfinished (24" square finished dimensions) after the first border, so I had plenty of options mathematically for the next one.  Units based on 2", 3", 4", 6", 8" or 12" all work beautifully when you have 24" to play with.

In the end, I decided to make the border 4" wide (finished) using 8 square in a square blocks and 40 flying geese.  Lots of piecing later she looks like this -

This pic is a close-up of the ducks (more Westfalen fabric) for Katy.

It's really interesting how each border changes the look of the quilt and the balance of colour.  So far I'm pleased with my progress, though I am learning that this type of quilt feels like it grows very quickly with each round unlike a quilt of 12" blocks.


Here's what I did

Border 2 - bringing unfinished size up to 32.5" square
40 flying geese pieced into 8 units of 5 geese each
8 square in a square blocks

For the flying geese:
Cut 80:  2.5" squares background fabric
Cut 40:  2.5" x 4.5" rectangles from print fabrics

For the square in squares:
Cut 8:   3 3/8" squares for centres
Cut 16: 3 3/8" squares background fabric for corners.  Cut these squares once on the diagonal to give the required 32 corner triangles.
Using these measurements should give you a generous block of approx 5" square which you should them trim evenly to 4.5" square.  Measurements for these square in a squares were helpfully published on  The size chart at the bottom is a useful reference to measurements for other sized square in a square blocks too.

The square in a squares were positioned at each corner and in the centre of the borders between the sets of 5 flying geese.

(I have added a new tab at the top for this quilt and will update it as I go along to keep all the details in one easily referenced spot. You know, just in case you decide in three months time you're going to have a bash at making one of these quilts for yourself.)

Thursday 14 November 2013

Busy Weekend

You may have noticed Judith's lovely pics and slideshow of last weekend's Exhibition and Fundraiser for the two charity quilting groups she is master encourager of.

As a taster here are a few pics I took myself -

The Vintage Sewing Room Exhibit

The Bake Off Exhibit

Large Quilts on display with a view beyond to our cafe area.

A place to lounge ... (at your peril!)

Bedroom Exhibit - complete with commode! (From a furniture upcycling workshop.)
Our Bee Blessed Craft Sale Table

Our friendly photographer Gordon was a star and took candid snaps throughout the day. His pics are much clearer and more artistic than mine and are the ones Judith has posted, so if you haven't seen the pics you must head over there now and have a wee nosey around.
Judith's 'In Stitches' Upcoming Classes and Workshops display
Judith's fabulous Irish Chain quilt which will be one of her new classes next term.

The exhibition's celebration of all the fabulous makes resulting from her classes and workshops throughout the year provides a perfect opportunity to showcase the new and upcoming projects that Judith has planned to further develop the creative talents of her local community.  And, next term I'm delighted (and slightly nervous) that I am going to be part of that in a new way!

Next term I am going to teach a wee Saturday workshop on embroidery - yes, me, imparting my enthusiasm for decorative hand-stitching and hopefully sharing a few wee tips and tricks along the way!

Through October I was stitching my wee fingers off to come up with these wee cuties for the class participants to choose from.  Each embroidery, while it might look complicated, provides an opportunity to experience several basic embroidery stitches and techniques to get folks well started on the road to acquiring new skills.  Well, that's the plan anyway.  So, if you fancy a wee stitchy day with me, Judith is now taking bookings for this workshop and lots of other fab classes too. Woohoo!

Wednesday 13 November 2013

November Bee Blocks

It has taken me a little longer than usual this month to finish up my Bee blocks, but here they are:

For Jennie in Modern Stitching Bee we are making her star blocks with a solid centre (range of colour options suggested by Jennie) and low volume background pieces.  Jennie has written her own tutorial for this block if you're interested.

Catherine's hipBee choice was the Jared Takes A Wife block which you can find on  This block has certainly sparked a bit of interest on IG, perhaps because Catherine's fabric selections make it very striking and perhaps also because it's a block which isn't so familiar to us.

In spite of the fact that this block is made from several units which in themselves are really straightforward, I had a humdinger of a time making them.  I was reaching for the stitch ripper more than just to correct this

Oops!  I just seemed to be having one of those days when my brain refused to co-operate.  I did eventually pull it together and finish both blocks, though some of the points are not as well aligned as they should be - hope they don't spoil things too much for your quilt Catherine.

Friday 8 November 2013

Street Rat

Some days you just long to look up ebay and find a pre-teen boy's Disney costume for sale for less than the price of an arm and a leg.  I had lots of those days last week and finally conceded that we were too late to order the Pluto cossie from China on time and that I needed to get "creative"in the sewing room.

My dressmaking skills are pretty much non existent but with help of some online diagrams we do now have a pair of Aladdin pants (with a crotch that fits and a waist that almost doesn't)from some white sheeting.  I guessed at constructing a purple fleece waistcoat and a red sash and the piece de resistance (in his opinion) good old ebay were able to supply - the red fez.   He seems happy not to be going in a Belle dress or Minnie Mouse ears and skirt.  Aladdin in Street Rat garb is much more acceptable apparently!

BTW you have to love that anti-pilar fleece stuff for not fraying.  That waistcoat has two side seams and two shoulder seams and the hems and armholes didn't need seamed because they wont fray.  (It's for one evening on his SU weekend away so I don't care if it frays after that.)

How many mummy brownie points do I get for this do you think?

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