Sunday, 8 July 2018


This block was extremely challenging, and not just for me.  Lots of others in the Faceoook group have said the same.  Clamshells are a really odd shape.  You can't just cut and machine stitch like you can with normal shaped patchwork.  These need to be prepared before you can stitch them together by hand, and it's quite difficult to get a smooth, round shape.

I followed the instructions that were given with the block, watched a video or two on Youtube and made a right mess of it.  You have to cut out a template, stick it to the back of the fabric, cut 1/4 inch around the template and then fold over that seam allowance and stick it down.  Glue got everywhere and I lost the roundness completely.  I couldnt get the template out so had to sort of cut it out but was left with half of it still left in.

Thought I could just do it by cutting out the shapes and just applique them to the background by machine. This did work, but it didn't look very good.   I left it a day or two and then started thinking again.  The clamshell shape is basically a circle with the sides cut out.  I thought that if I just made circles and layered them I could get the same effect. I'm a fan of Lori Holt and she does applique shapes using interfacing so I loooked it up and gave it a try.

I drew circles onto lightweight fusible interfacing.  Placed it bumpy side down on top my fabric which was right side up. Then I machine stitched all the way around the circle right on the drawn line.  Then cut a small cross in the centre of the interfacing and carefully turned them right sides out.  Carefully poked the edges to make a nicely rounded shape and finger pressed the edge. I layered them onto the block and ironed them in place. I then used invisible thread to handstich them in place.  One problem with using invisible thread is that you can't see it!  I didn't want to see the stitches when I'd finished but I would have liked to be able to see it to thread the needle!  Quite a long-winded process but it gave reasonably pleasing results.

I like to make a little story for my blocks if I can and so I chose a blue background to represent sky and scrappy greens  for my clamshells to make it look like rolling hills.  I embroidered all three flowers in red for impact.  There was a lot of bare blue sky so I embroidered a couple of little butterflies as well.

It was a long process but I got there in the end.  I actually enjoyed working this one and seeing how I could get better results with a little bit more effort.  At one point I was stitching away on the machine between 2 and 4 in the early hours of the morning as it was so hot and I couldn't sleep.

Time to make:  20 hours (at least)  No of pieces:  10

Splendid Sampler 2 - Clamshells by Helen Stubbings 

Saturday, 23 June 2018

I don't do Milk & Cookies!

This week's block for The Splendid Sampler 2 is called Milk & Cookies.  I don't drink milk and I call cookies 'biscuits' because I'm English.  I am rather partial to tea and biscuits, though. The large, plain appliqued circle in the middle was just crying out to me to be customised in some way so I've stitched a little teapot.  I think I will rename my block 'Tea and Biscuits."

I liked doing the embroidered blocks in SS1 so I'm hoping there will be some more in SS2.  I'm thinking I will try to incorporate a bit of stitchery in more of these blocks, if the design allows for it.  I'll look again at last week's block and see what I can do.  In SS1 I did all the applique bits by machine but I've done this one by hand and found it very satisfying.

It took me forever to decide on my fabric combination so I haven't included that in my statistics. I am a rather slow stitcher, though.

Time to make: 6 hours  No of pieces:  21

Splendid Sampler 2 - Milk & Cookies by Rebecca Bryan 

renamed Tea & Biscuits by me.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Change of Plan

I was putting my new block away with the ones I'd made previously and came across a drawer full of multi-coloured scraps that I've been saving.  Wow, have I saved a lot. I then remembered what I was collecting and saving them for. I thought that when I had enough variety and colours I would use them to make a sampler quilt when a QAL came along that I like the look of. Well, Splendid Sampler 2 has come along and I know I thought I would just carry on making them in French General and mix them in with the already made blocks from SS1.  I've got 48 blocks made so far.  I never intended to make all 100 blocks as I don't want a huge quilt, so I'll carry on and make a few more in FG from the SS1 book and start anew on SS2 in my scrappy, happy colours.  So here's the first one again.

Time to make: 1 1/4 hours  No. of pieces: 21

Splendid Sampler 2 - Quilt Market by Alex Veronelli

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Splendid Sampler 2 - and we're off

Wow, it's nearly two years since my last post.  Time flies so fast, doesn't it.  I haven't done any patchwork in all that time, but I have been doing lots of crochet, knitting and cross stitch.  I needed something portable as I was spending more and more time looking after my aged father, so the patchwork got put aside. Dad died a year ago this month but I got caught up in so many other things that sitting down at my sewing machine hasn't been high on my agenda.  However, now that Pat Sloan has started The Splendid Sampler 2 Sew-a-Long I was itching to make a start on something new,  I love sewing along with all the other people and get so much inspiration fom seeing all of the different takes on the block.  I'll  just add these blocks to the ones already made from the first Splendid Sampler.

It did feel good to get my stash of French General out again and go through it to find some scraps for this first block.  I can't wait for the next block to come out.

Quilt Market by Alex Veronelli

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Splendid Sampler Update

I've lost a bit of momentum on these blocks over the summer.  I haven't had much time to sew or to blog.  Dog-walking, caring for an aged parent, and spending time with the grandchildren, have filled my days, but now the children are back at school and my life seems to have quietened down a bit i hope to get caught up.  Here are a few blocks I have managed to complete.

#26 Dreaming of dresdens
 This was a fairly easy block to make designed by Jane Davidson.  I kept the blades to just 2 colours as I didn't want it too fussy.

#44 Stitch in the Garden

This block, by Gail Pain, combined a touch of applique with embroidery.  I kept to just redwork for the stitching to match all of the embroidered blocks in this quilt.  I outlined the reels with stitching to create more impact as they didn't seem to stand out.

#46 Twirl Time

 This block, by Sarah J Maxwell, took a lot of my time to choose just the right combination of fabrics and then the placement of them.  I love the way the legs appear to be running away.

#47 Circle of love

A block by Geta Grama.  I cut this one out all in one piece and appliqued by machine.  The original was cut out all in little pieces, but as I've only used one fabric, it was easier this way.

#48 Whim

Another one that took me ages to choose the right fabrics for.  I paper-pieced this one and used the very under-used embroidery stitches on my sewing machine for the crazy quilting.  Love it!

#49 Summer's Gift

A combination of piecing and applique designed by Karla Eisenach.  I cut the outer petals all in one piece rather than separate petals.  It made it much easier to get the placement right.  Fussy cutting for the centre.

#57 Starting Point

A quick and simple little block by Lissa Alexander.  The original has a 4-patch in the centre but I simplified it a bit.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Star Sampler Quilt - Finished!

I started this quilt back in 2013 and it is, at long last, FINISHED!

The journey began on this one because I had a lot of the blue scraps left over from another quilt I had made.  They are all from the same line - Chambray Rose by Shabby Chic. I didn't want another blue quilt so I searched around and found the red fabric, which seemed to match the shabbiness.  The red is Clermont Farm by Moda.  I kept the background nice and simple with Kona Snow.

It started of as a Combined BOM for 2013, using blocks from many different BOMs, but then I hit a stumbling block as there were some block designs that just didn't seem to fit, so as I found a block I liked, I included it in this quilt.  The early blocks all seemed to have a star-like theme so I continued to find other starry blocks. 

The quilt top was finished in June 2013 and I decided to quilt it by hand.  I found a cotton quilt cover in Ikea in a lovely Toile de Jouy print that made a lovely backing.  It was a fairly thin cotton with a not-too-tight weave, so ideal for hand stitching, and it only cost about £10, I think. I chose a luxury bamboo batting to see what it was like.  It's so soft and silky and quilted easily.  It's wonderfully warm, too.

I thought it would take me the winter to complete it.  How wrong was I!  It's easy to get bored with the same project, and I had other smaller projects that needed my time so it got put on the back burner for months at a time.  When the summer came it got put away completely.  It's no joke trying to sew in the heat with a quilt on your lap.

The quilting is fairly dense all over, and I realise now that it needn't have been.  Mostly it is straight lines following the patterns in  each block, but for the sashing I used a template.  For the border I went back to straight lines.

I didn't have enough of either the blue or the red fabric to do a binding, but then I came across this super easy flange binding.  Because the strips are cut narrower and then joined together I just had enough.  The joy of this binding is that it is all completely sewn on by machine.  Definitely will use this method again.

All of the pictures were taken in my daughter's gorgeous garden.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Two more Splendid Sampler blocks

#40 Flights of Fancy

This block is designed by Barb Groves and Mary Jacobson of Me and My Sister.  It's another block that is made up of 36 x 1" finished squares.  I made the half-square triangles using the 8-at-a-time method, cut out my background squares and then ironed them all onto Pellon Quilter's Grid.  I then folded and stitched down the seams and sliver cut the seams to press them open. The seams match up perfectly using this method but it does make the block a bit firmer than the others but I don't think that will matter when they are all sewn together and quilted. I've deviated from the designer's choice of fabric placement by only having one colour for all of the stars and also having solid centres. 

#41 Sew South 

This block is designed by Jennifer Mathis.  I used some paper 1" hexagon templates that came free with a magazine. I knew they's come in useful one day. I've modified the design to make it a bit easier.  The original has an exploded group of hexagons; each hexie sewn to the background separately, with about 1/8" in between each hexie.  I've chosen to sew all of my hexies together first and then applique them to the background using my machine blanket stitch.

I've now decided on the setting for these blocks and have bought the fabric and washed and pressed it ready to cut out.  I shall be sewing the sashings on each individual block over the summer so that when I have made enough  blocks I can decide on placement and then sew them altogether.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

My Brexit block

Back in April a block was designed for the Splendid Sampler QAL by Cheryl Arkison to commemorate Earth Day. The original pattern gave a design of either the US or Australia in the middle but as I have no affiliation to either of those countries I decided to do a map of Europe.  I Googled outline maps of Europe but to get the whole of Europe inside a 4" circle would mean losing all definition of the various countries, and the UK was tiny with hardly any shape.  It seemed that my only other option was to do a map of the UK on its own and I found this outline shape and reduced it down to fit.

I just happened to be embroidering this one whilst waiting for the Referendum results to come in.  I think it rather prophetic that my block shows the UK on its own, outside of Europe.  Piecing the background today I thought it looked like a whirlwind, reminding me of the state of our two main political parties at the moment as they try and decide who is going to lead them.

I hope  that the original designer doesn't mind me changing the name of the block from "Earth Day" to "Brexit".  It will serve to remind me of the momentous decision that this country has made.

Bonus Block "Brexit"

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Getting caught up

Now that exams are over and I've no more invigilating to do I can have a bit of me time.  My father is so much better now and has resumed going out to his Lunch Club twice a week, so I get two days a week when I don't have to go and get his meal ready.  This gives me so much more time to do do the things that I really want to do, namely getting caught up with my blocks for the Splendid Sampler QAL.

This is #27 Sewing Machine and was designed by Pat Sloan. This was a fairly simple applique block and came together quite quickly.

This one is #31, designed by Jenny Reynolds. I chose to do it all in red backstitch, as I have the other embroidered blocks in this quilt. I used Sulky Fabri-Solvy which is a printable, self-adhesive, water soluble stabilizer.  I just printed the design straight onto it, stuck it onto the fabric and then embroidered straight onto it.  A nice long soak, not the 2-3 minutes the instructions say, and it all dissolves away. I've been stitching this one on and off for about 3 weeks.

Monday, 27 June 2016

#39 Balls in the Air

This is another paper-pieced block for the Splendid Sampler QAL.  This one is designed by Aylin Ozturk and I wasn't going to do it as it had so many teeny-tiny pieces in it to make it into a circle,  some of the pieces had seam allowances larger than the actual piece and would have been really bulky.  On closer inspection I thought that I could do the centre, cut it out into a circle and then simply applique it onto the background, which is what I've done. I cut a circle of Bondaweb, snipped away the centre of it to make a ring and stuck it to the circle.  Then centred it onto the background piece and sewed it on the machine using the blanket stitch.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

More Splendid Sampler blocks.

I've completed two more blocks from the Splendid Sampler QAL.

# 32 The Constant Needle

This block, by Laurie Simpson, was a fairly straightforward applique block.  I used Bondaweb to stick the shapes onto the backing fabric and then used the blanket stitch on my sewing machine to finish it off.

#35 The Wishful Garden

The designer of this block, Kristyne Czepuryk, meant for the cross pieces to be strips of hand embroidered flowers but I've just used strips cut from my French General collection. I've been wanting to use this Fleur de Lys fabric for some time but it doesn't seem to fit well being cut up into small pieces and joined back together again.  This block is perfect for it, though.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Catching Up!

It's ages since I last posted, April actually and now we're in June.  My elderly father's been ill and spent a couple of weeks in hospital and since then I've been having to go into Winchester every day, sometimes twice in a day, to take care of him. He is very much weaker, and more frail, than he used to be, and it is taking him a long time to recover, but I think he is, at last, getting stronger. Today is the first day that I haven't gone in to see him but I telephoned and he said my brother went this morning so not to bother going in.  It has given me a bit of a break as I've also been working the last few weeks.  I invigilate exams at the local sixth-form college so between that, seeing to Dad and my usual doggie day-care for my daughter I haven't had a lot of time to myself.  Oh, I nearly forgot; the grandchildren were on half-term last week and I was called upon a few times to look after them.  That isn't a chore, by the way, but it does curtail the time to do things for myself.

Looking back, I'm actually amazed at how much I have actually achieved.  I've managed nine blocks for my Splendid Sampler.  I've been catching ten minutes here and five minutes there.  I know that one block took me a week to do and I must have spent about about two dozen short sessions doing it. The embroidered one took me over a week to sew, mainly during the evenings.  So here they all are.

# 17 Family Stars

 I simplified this one by doing all of the star points in one colour.  This meant that I could make the Flying Geese units using the no-waste 4 at-a-time method.

#18 Lina's Gift

This basket block looks a bit plain compared to some of the others but I think it will be a bit of resting space for the eyes when it is sewn in with all of the others.

#20 Nature's Walk

This one is so cute.  I've kept the embroidery as simple redwork as it will go with the previous embroidered block.  I've a feeling there might be more of these embroidered blocks so I'll keep them all in the same style.

#21 Sweet Candy

A super simple one that didn't tax my brain too much although I did agonise over choosing the fabrics to use.

#22 Goose on the Loose

This one was foundation paper-pieced.  I've only ever used this method of construction since I started this Sampler so I was a bit wary but I'm so pleased with how it's turned out.  Such perfect points in each quadrant.  It did create a fair bit of waste, though.

#23 Hand in Hand

This one had a really intriguing way of creating those long triangular shapes which was really super easy to construct.  It did involve making a template but it came together in a unique way and is rather pleasing.

#24 Inspector Sidekick

The pattern for this one used half square triangles but I decided to use Flying Geese units so that I could fussy cut those Fleur de Lys and make it quite symmetrical.  I also decided to use my new-found skill of paper-piecing and drafted out my own patterns to use for those units.

#30 Simple Surprises

After the last three time consuming blocks it was a relief to make this one.

#33 Selvedge Saver

I've been saving my selvedges for some time now so I was pleased when this block showed up today.  I've only used my French General edges as that is the fabric line I am using for this QAL.  I made this by starting in the bottom corner and using a few dots of basting glue to stick the first strip to a 7" paper square.  I continued sticking strips on top, working back up to the top corner.  When the paper was covered I then stitched close to each edge.  Some of the selvedge edges have a fringed edging so I've left them lying on the top.  I quite like it.

I've missed out quite a few blocks, about 10 I think as well as a few of the bonus blocks.  These are mainly applique blocks or complicated paper-piecing ones and I might come back to them when I have more time on my hands.