Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Block With No Name

Whilst blog-hopping I came across this block called Jumping Jack Flash and thought it would be a good one to try and would fit in nicely with my varied BOM Sampler quilt.

Jumping Jack Flash block

I printed out the pdf instructions from the Aurifil site, had a good look at them and decided that I could make the sections using alternative methods.  There is a good method for making four flying geese blocks at once, with no waste, here, so I thought I would give it a try.  I also made use of this tutorial to make eight Half Square Triangles at once, too.  So far so good.  When I came to assemble my units I couldn't get my block to look like this.  I'd obviously done something wrong.

Of course, I'm using different fabrics and colours to the ones listed in the tutorial, and I got confused when I transposed my own fabrics and cut some pieces in the wrong fabric.  Instead of remaking the units I re-arranged my units in a way that would work, and I've come up with this.

Can you see where I went wrong?

Now I have a dilemma.  Is this already a known block, or have I designed a new one?  If you know the answer to this please let me know.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Little Red Schoolhouses

As soon as I saw the picture of this quilt I just knew I would have to make it.  It's from the book 'Prairie Children and their Quilts' by Kathleen Tracy and is called 'Little Red Schoolhouse Quilt'.

 I started my teaching career in a small, red brick village school.  It only had two classes  and I taught in the room that was used for assemblies, PE, and also for eating lunches at midday.  This meant that I was constantly having to move furniture and children out of the way.  When the tables were getting prepared for lunch I had to evacuate the children to the cloakroom (where they kept their coats).  In winter we were surrounded by wet clothes and boots, very squashed, and nowhere to sit except the floor.  Not an ideal situation, and I was still expected to teach something.  We did a lot of chanting of the multiplication tables and reciting of poetry during those times.  I only stayed at that school for a year but it was quite an experience.  I recently met  someone who was an eight year old in my class at the time.  She recognised me instantly and started quoting Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' to me.  I'd obviously made a lasting impression on her.

I made this little quilt using scraps.  Some of it is quilting material, but there are also some pieces of old shirts in there as well.

I hand quilted it in the ditch around the seams of each square and across the diagonals, and outlined the roofs, doors and windows.  I hand stitched the binding to the back and finished it off with a machine embroidered label.  It measures just 15 1/2" x 15 1/2" square.  Each of the little house blocks is made up of 20 separate pieces, the chimney stacks being the tiniest pieces at 1" square (unfinished),  and is the first time I have worked on such a miniscule scale.

Grandmother's Favourite

This block is by Lynne Harris of The Little Red Hen for the Bee Block Blog Hop by Daisy Janie and is called Grandmother's Favourite.

I wasn't too sure if I wanted to make this block when I saw the instructions as it uses lots of triangles joined together.  I've made Half Square Triangles using the method whereby you sew two squares together 1/4" on either side of the diagonal and then cut it in half to make two HSTs, but not cutting separate triangles first and then joining them.  I've read that it is difficult this way because you are joining pieces on the bias and it is easy to stretch and distort them, but I've also read that using spray starch to stabilise the fabric first helps.  So I starched my fabrics back and front, several times, before cutting them and I'm pleased to say they behaved themselves perfectly.  No stretching of the bias and no distorting.  In fact, I think it is one of the best finishes of a pieced block I've done so far.  The seams nested perfectly, and I only nipped off one little tip of a triangle.  I paid special attention to how I pressed the seams and managed to get a really flat finish.

I fussy cut the centre square to get a whole rose in the middle.

This is the reverse, showing how I pressed the seams to get a good, flat  finish.  I know some of the seams are pressed towards the light fabric, but that is the way they wanted to go, so I went with that.

Fabric used is from the Chambray Rose collection by Shabby Chic, Clermont Farms by Moda, and Kona Snow.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Snow Blossom

The second block for my mixed BOM quilt.  This one is called Snow Blossom and is from The Sugar Block Club at Stitchery Dickory Dock.  Amy is doing all of her sample blocks in solids which makes it really easy to see how the piecing goes, but I'm liking mine in the patterned fabric.

2013 BOMs

I seem to have subscribed to five different Block of the Months at the last count.  I thought that I would need a different range of fabrics for each one, and make five different quilts.  These would all need finishing around the same time towards the end of the year, but the thought of having five to finish at the same time doesn't really appeal.   I also don't have a stash of fabric to pull from, and buying new fabric for five quilts all at once is out of the question, so this is what I'm planning on doing.

I have quite a lot of the Chambray Rose by Shabby Chic range leftover from this quilt so I will use this.  I thought that I'd like another colour in with the blues, so I've bought some lovely faded red fabric called Clermont Farms by Polly Minick and Lauri Simpson for Moda, and some Kona Snow for the backgrounds. I'm going to use this for all of the BOMs until it's used up, or I have enough blocks to make a quilt.  So my quilts will be made with a mixture of blocks from all the different BOMs, and then I can get some more fabric for the next lot of blocks.  This way I will be finishing my quilts throughout the year instead of all at the same time.  So here are the fabrics I will be using.

And here is the first block for the first quilt of this year's BOM.  It is from the Sisters' Ten Modern Block of the Month from Gen X Quilters and is called Grandmother's Frame.

Now I see it here I can see that I have arranged my corner squares differently to the pattern, but I quite like it my way, so they're staying.  Maybe I should rename it  Grandmother Joan's Frame instead.

4 + 4 = 8

I've made another four blocks for the Scrappy Trip Around the World.  I'm glad I went with the constant plain navy for the middle line as I think it adds some definition to the pattern.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Three more blocks done

I found some sewing time this afternoon and managed another 3 blocks for my Scrappy Trip Around the World, before I had to pack it away, completely, so that daughter wouldn't see it when she comes in for her dinner.  I've even emptied my snips bin into the dustbin outside so she won't see any scraps lying around, and  I've placed another project by the sewing machine so she doesn't suspect anything. I hope I can keep up this subterfuge until I've completed it.  Only another 20 blocks to go!

Here's blocks 1-4.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Scrappy Trip Around the World

When I went up into the loft just after Christmas to put the decorations away I stumbled across a bag stuffed full with old clothes that I had made for my daughter when she went to university twenty years ago.  They were all made of cotton as she has sensitive skin.  My heart skipped a beat.  I thought there must be yards and yards of good, usable stuff there.  I brought them down and washed them to freshen them up.  I even tried on a few items, dresses, skirts, shirts, trousers, tops.  Daughter came and saw them and fell in love with them all over again.  She tried on a few bits but decided that it wasn't quite the look she wanted these days. I told her I intended cutting them up for quilting.  She said I should keep them for Sophie, my 5 year old granddaughter, for when she is older, but I managed to persuade her otherwise.  She said I could make a quilt for her, so that is what I'm going to do.

I want it to be a surprise for her birthday in April, but the problem is she comes to me for her dinner after work most days so I'm going to have to be really good and clear everything away before she comes in.  Yesterday was a Snow Day so she stayed at her own house so I thought it would a good time to make a start.

I cut and ripped everything into usable pieces, pressed them and then cut them into the 16" x 2 1/2" strips that I need.  I worked out that to make a 24 square quilt I would need 144 strips,  24 navy strips and 12 strips from each of 10 other fabrics.  I had to supplement the aqua strips on the end with some other blue floral fabric as I couldn't cut enough from the aqua.   This should make a quilt about 72" x 48", and with a border added to that, will make a generous sized quilt for lounging on the sofa.

I finished cutting late last night, but I couldn't go to bed without seeing what one block would look like so made one quickly.

I'm going to use the dark navy as a constant in all of the blocks, through the middle like this one, to give the pattern a bit more of a structure.  Today I'm going to get all of the strips sewn together in their strip sets and have a big pressing session at the end.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt

When I started quilting last August, and started to read quilting blogs, everyone seemed to be making a Farmer's Wife quilt and I really liked the blocks and finished quilts that people posted, .  So I bought the book to see what it was all about.

I loved reading all of the letters and learning about farm life in the 1920's, but now it's about time I started making some of the blocks.  I decided I wanted to make it all in fabrics from one line to give it a lovely cohesive look, and chose Marmalade by Bonnie and Camille.  I love the blend of aqua, pink, red, grey, green  and yellow and I've wanted to use this line ever since I first saw it.  I was overjoyed when I saw that Simply Solids had the Layer Cake in their sale so I snapped it up without batting an eyelid.  I thought that one layer cake would need a bit of extra fabric added to it and so I started hunting for good matches, when I saw that Pink Castle Fabrics in America had the whole of the Marmalade line, plus matching solids, at sale prices.  I just had to get me some. I wanted yardage for the sashing, border, setting triangles, cornerstones and binding, as well as a few extra prints to supplement the layer cake. I worked out that even with the extra postage, import duties and PO collection charge, it was still going to work out cheaper than buying it in UK, so an order went in.  It only took 10 days to arrive and it came straight to the door with no import duties, so even cheaper than I'd hoped.  Along with it came a gift of 3 half yard pieces of fabric to add to my stash!  That's good service!

Whilst I was reading the book I noticed that it didn't lay flat and kept closing, so it was obviously going to be difficult to keep it open when I wanted to work from it, so I took the book to Kal-kwik and had it ring bound.  It makes so much difference and only cost £3.90 to have it done.

I'm going to make the lap size quilt which needs 50 blocks and I hope to make at least one block a week.  Maybe this will be ready for the finishing stages the week after next Christmas.  That's what I'm hoping for.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Completed blocks

This is the final block for my BOM 2012 quilt.  It is the LeMoyne Star and I used this excellent tutorial from Piece n Quilt.  As you can see I chose to use four different fabrics in my star points instead of two.

Here are all of the completed blocks laid out on my living room floor.

I started with just Craftsy Blocks of the Month but didn't like some of them so added others I  liked better. You can probably spot two of the same block.  It was the very first one I made and didn't think I'd made it very well, so repeated it, but it turned out the same, so I've kept them both in.  The colour is rubbish in these photos, really much brighter in real life.  This isn't the final layout, that will come much later.  At the moment, I'm thinking I will quilt them all individually and then join them up, but I may change my mind.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

More haste, less speed

I had half an hour to kill before I needed to start on dinner so thought I would make a very quick block.  I've been seeing the Scrappy Trip Around the World by Bonnie Hunter absolutely everywhere.  Everyone says how quick and easy it is so I thought 'That's the one for me'.  Tutorial here.  It was really easy to cut out, just six strips 2 1/2" wide by 16".  Sew all the strips together along  the long edges to form a tube, and then sub-cut into 2 1/2"   sections.  The trickiest bit seems to be then unpicking a seam on each piece to make 6 flat pieces, which are then sewn together.  Dead Easy!  Took me just half an hour from start to finish.   Final press, quick photo,  then start the dinner.   Here it is.

Ooops!  That isn't what it's supposed to look like!

I knew I wanted the orange to run through the middle and I'd been concentrating on that so I hadn't noticed that I'd sewn the middle strips in upside down.  A quick session with the seam ripper, re-sewn and it was soon put to rights.

That's better!

This block really needs to be joined with three others the same to make a lovely diamond pattern in a huge 24" square, but I'm just using this one to fill in my BOM quilt, but I do want to make more of these as they're such fun to make.    I can feel another quilt coming on!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Three More Blocks

I made these three blocks yesterday for my Craftsy BOM quilt.  The first one is a Craftsy block and is supposed to be the Wonky Log Cabin block, but mine isn't very wonky at all.  I tried doing wonky on a couple of Hot Pads for Xmas and they didn't turn out well either, just looked a mess.  I guess I'm not very good at improvising.

If you look hard you can see that the red spotty strips are actually different widths.  That's the 'wonky' bit!  This block is going to need a bit of special quilting to cheer it up, I think.

The next block is a Churn Dash block.  I've been seeing these everywhere and I love them.  I'd actually like a whole quilt made of these.  It was very quick and easy to put together too.  I used a tutorial from Crazy Mom Quilts.

The last one is called Bricks in the Barnyard and I found this one on Quiltville.  It comes from Bonnie Hunter's book Scraps and Shirttails 2.  I don't have the book but I saw a photo of the block on her blog and copied it out onto squared paper and worked it out from that.

I've decided to make this quilt a bit bigger so I need to do another two blocks to make it up to twenty blocks total.  I think I will use these blocks to try machine quilting techniques so will quilt them all separately and join them after. I've only ever done straight line quilting on the machine so this will be something new for me to try. 

Friday, 11 January 2013


Last August I started making some of the Craftsy Block-of-the-Month squares.  This was a very good introduction for me as I am very new to quilting and piecing.  Amy Gibson's tutorial videos were very easy to follow and included so many helpful tips.  I bought a few fat quarters of likely fabric and used a few scraps that I already had.  I made 12 blocks and then felt empowered with knowledge and went on to make a few quilts, but now I want to finish these blocks.  I don't like all of them and am still too scared to try curved piecing, so I have substituted other blocks for those.  I intend to make 16 blocks in all.  These are the latest two I've made this week.

This one is called Moth in the Window and measures 12 1/2"square.  I saw this one on but it was a 6" block, so I resized it.  I'm getting quite good at working out cutting plans for blocks.  I draw the block out on squared paper using one square per half inch, and I colour it in with my grandchilren's colouring pencils.  This one was really easy to cut and piece.  I cut a strip the width of fabric in floral and cream, seamed them along the longest edge and then cut the desired lengths from that.  Much easier than sewing lots of little pieces.

This one is one of the Craftsy blocks.  It's foundation pieced onto a cream square (the bit showing in the middle of each quarter).  I'd like to make a whole quilt using this block, but I think I would use paper foundations as it comes out very thick with two layers of fabric plus all those seams.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Doves in the Window

This is the first in a series of mini quilts I want to make this year.  I'm making a start by using patterns by Kathleen Tracy at A Sentimental Quilter.  This is a free pattern called "Doves in the Window".  I pieced it by machine but did simple straight line and stitch in the ditch quilting by hand..  It measures just 16" x 16".

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's Goals

I don't make New Year's Resolutions as I can never stick to them, but I do have some quilting goals that I would like to achieve this year.  I have lots of ideas in my head, and I've been pinning like crazy on Pinterest, and I could write a list a yard long, but I need to be realistic and take my available time and, more importantly, monetary constraints into account.  I don't have a great stash of fabric to count on, just some scraps from old dressmaking projects, some old clothes from the attic, and some old cotton shirts and sheets that I've been buying from the £1 charity shop in town.  I have just ordered some fabric from the sale in Pink Castle Fabrics that I have been lusting after for a while (Marmalade by Bonnie and Camille) that is less than half the price I could buy it for here in England, so that will be all for the foreseeable future.  I think I can still make a reasonable list, though.

1.  Finish the Craftsy BOM quilt started in August (4 blocks to go, then sashing, backing, quilting and binding).
2.  Start "The Farmer's Wife Quilt" using "Marmalade".
3.  Join in Stitchery Dickory Dock's Sugar Block Club each month (using leftover fabric from my "Chambray Rose" quilt.
4.  Make quilt for daughter using her old clothes (Cluck Cluck Sew's "Scattered" pattern).
5.  Make a string quilt from old shirts using one of  Bonnie Hunter's patterns.
6.  Join in with the Blogger Girls BOM on Open Gate Blog (using available scraps).
7.  Make a mini quilt each month from Kathleen Tracey's books (using available scraps).

So, this should see me through until at least August when I shall probably start thinking about making Christmas presents again.