Thursday, 7 November 2013

Two two-colour strip quilts

Have you ever felt bereft?  I had a spell recently when my elderly but much loved, and much used, Bernina 910 had to go to the mender's.  It had been skipping stitches when I was quilting and I just couldn't carry on. It was a strange time (only 5 days but it felt like 5 weeks) and I found I didn't bond with my spare machine at all.

End of story is that I needed a new walking foot (I had managed to break the old one - oops).  Since getting the new foot I have gone mad with machine quilting and have finished three and a bit quilts.  Only straight line quilting (hence the walking foot being vital) but I am pleased with the results and it means three more tops have been transformed into useful quilts, at last.

I have taken photos of one of the quilts, and the 'bit' - a mini quilt made from the offcuts.  Those of you who know me will know how very reluctant I am to throw anything away, especially scraps that have been stitched and/or cut in some fashion.  Challenge yourself to see whether you can make a small quilt from whatever is left, it's fun and it means the fabric is then GONE and you aren't haunted by still having it lying around in your cupboard or workspace.

So these are my TWO two-colour strip quilts, made in aquas and creams collected over quite a period of time.  I used a design from the book. Strip Smart Quilts by Kathy Brown, just the sort of sewing I love: cut strips, sew together, cut again, stitch again and hey presto!  I cut my triangles with a special ruler made by Creative Grids but you could use the 45 degree lines on your ordinary ruler.

 Needless to say I made my big quilt bigger (to use more fabric!) and changed the border.  I backed it with some Marsha McCloskey Staples fabric from way back (almost didn't, I love this fabric so much and have been saving it for too many years to mention, but I am supposed to be sewing from stash at the moment...).

The mini quilt is adapted from one of the other designs in the book and uses the triangles from the ends of the strip sets.  I used pretty much every scrap and backed and bound it in the same fabrics as the big quilt.

The big quilt measures 55" x 79" and the mini 29" x 40" - not bad from pieces that might have gone in the bin.  It's a nice baby playmat size and a great size for trying out machine quilting ideas.

Enjoy your sewing, whatever you are working on this week.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Charm Star

I had a very enjoyable day a couple of Saturdays ago, teaching my Charm Star quilt to a group of six lovely ladies at my local quilt shop.  Here are the blocks made by Marian, Jo, Hilary, Helen, Sarah and Jenny :

One of the pleasures of teaching a class is seeing just how different everyone's work turns out because of their choice of fabric.

 It was also a delight because everyone worked really hard and achieved excellent results.  I hope they will power on and finish their quilts.

As a teacher I always dread the class putting the project in a bag at the back of the cupboard, because I know that's what I have done with some of the things I have started in workshops in the past.

However, I am now finally resurrecting and finishing some of my UFO's and it is very rewarding.  So if you are in the same boat, challenge yourself to finish something soon.

The block is designed to use the delicious packs of 5" Charm squares we are (or is that just me?) so often tempted to pick up.

The Sawtooth Star has a 16 patch middle; the small squares finish 1" - but with quick cutting and, yes, chain piecing, the block centres go together accurately.

It is surprisingly satisfying to make a block on a smaller than usual scale; the only drawback being that you make twenty of them and you still only have a cot size quilt!

But the design could be scaled up to use Layer Cakes (10" squares) and that would make a BIG quilt.

This is a block which benefits from good pressing at every stage, and particularly pressing open the seams which join the flying geese units to the pieced centres.

I find that pressing open helps to show off the star points really well - they can get lost in the bulk of the fold if the fabric is pressed to one side.

And if you have great points you should show them off!

Here is my completed quilt, which measures  37" x 46", simply quilted with a walking foot.  I used a couple of Charm packs I had had in the cupboard for a while: Old Fashioned Charm by Blackbird Designs for Moda,  plus some co-ordinating spots for the star points.

I am making a bright version which I will blog about when I have finished it.


Friday, 4 October 2013

The Joy of Chain Piecing

At last, some chain piecing:  Over the past few weeks I have managed to work on traditional Log Cabin blocks: these have been made from the leftovers from my Washington Medallion block of the month, plus a few extra bits of blue, brown and cream from my stash.  The slightly tedious part was cutting all the 1 ½” strips to the right lengths for the logs, but as I had decided to be fairly random in my placement, even that became a challenge to see what different sizes I could squeeze out of the various scraps.

Then the fun started: I really do love to chain piece, sitting at the machine, just feeding in strips without too much thought required, and ending up with a delightful ‘bunting’ chain on the floor under the machine, ready to take to the ironing board.  Can anyone tell me why the pieces arrange themselves in a circle, and does the circle go the opposite way round the clock in the southern hemisphere, like water down the plughole?  Or is that another modern myth?

Anyway, in a few spare minutes here and there during the past month I have been able to piece and press 168 x 8” blocks (unfinished size) which I have joined to make a huge top (12 blocks by 14 the top measures 90” x 105”).  This will be great on a double bed and, when I have chosen a backing fabric, I am going to have it long arm quilted by my dear friend Susie Green as it is just too big for me to tackle.  It won’t quite be something for nothing by the time it is finished, but I have had the satisfaction of using my scraps - and the joy of chain piecing.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Flannel Sawtooth Stars

Flannel Sawtooth Stars is from a pattern in Fons and Porter’s Fat Quarter Friendly.  I really liked the zigzag border, and I have had most of the flannels/plaids in my stash since Piecemakers days.  

I feel that flannels, being so soft, are better suited to relatively simple piecing; the sawtooth star can be made with stitch and flip corners, so that reduces the risk of stretching the bias edges of the fabric. 

Having pieced the top in April, I finally got around to quilting it last week: I decided to quilt straight lines by machine in a chocolate brown thread which I found blended best with the variety of colours.  I really like the way that quilting through the diagonals of the sawtoooth stars, which is partly in the ditch and unobtrusive, also creates the diamonds in the centre square and across the ‘four patch’ where the block corners meet.  

So although it is not the most exciting way to quilt a top, I feel it is in keeping with the homespun look.  I did quilt the zigzag border separately in the ditch to make it stand out.  

Blue and rust striped border from stash makes for a happy finish.

Flannels seem rather out of fashion at the moment but I love them - and this cosy quilt.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Washington Medallion

Hi I am Alison and I really like to chain piece my quilts: I am a slash and stitch sort of a quilter, I love quick cutting techniques and projects using lots of fabrics which come together quickly (though I don’t always manage to finish off my tops quite so quickly…). 

I feel a bit of a fraud, however, having chosen this name for my blog, as I haven’t actually done any chain piecing for a month or so: I have been busy trying to finish hand quilting a Block of the Month sample for my friends Julia and Gwen who run my local quilt shop, Patchwork Cabin in Great Bookham, Surrey.  They are off to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham this week and they wanted to take the Washington Medallion quilt with them to promote their Block of the Month programme. 

I managed, just, to have it more or less finished (there is a tiny bit more to do in the outer border of stars) by dint of a 10 day holiday in a cottage in the Lake District where there was no TV, radio, telephone or internet connection, so pretty much all I could do in the evening was quilt, once the compulsory holiday jigsaw had been completed.

I do love the look of hand quilting but I always seem to be in a tearing hurry to get on with the next project, so I am forever looking for the quickest way to finish a top.  Hand quilting, I can assure you, is not the quickest way…  

However, having had to spend some time on the Washington Medallion, I find I do quite enjoy the rhythm of the stitching and my fingertips have just about survived, so now I have dug out a couple of other projects from way back which I abandoned having got stuck on the quilting.  You never know, these may feature in this blog in the future.