Friday, 23 May 2014

Two finished tops and still not satisfied...

Two tops finished this week, though not yet quilted - hope that still counts as a finish for a link to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts?

The first is the Floral Double Irish Chain featured in my last post, so all I'll say is that I added a 2" border of Kona Solid Snow and a 3" (because that's all I had left) border of the pink linen floral (cut measurements) - very traditional but pretty all the same.  Sorry it's a bit creased in the photo - I rushed to get a picture between cloudbursts.  The finished top measures 46" square.

I found a perfect pink and green stripe in my stash for the backing so I am really thrilled about that, but I won't be able to quilt it for a few weeks: I am taking eleven kids from our village youth group to camp next week, so no quilting or blogging for a while.  I hope it doesn't rain as I'm a bit of a fair-weather camper....

Knowing that my sewing time is running out has made me go a bit mad the past few days.  I finished piecing the top I showed you just a few blocks of last time: it is a smaller version of a big quilt I made a few years ago from the 101 Fabulous Rotary Cut Quilts book by Judy Hopkins and Nancy J. Martin.  This book has been around a long time but it is still a great resource for classic designs; definitely worth revisiting regularly for inspiration.

The quilt combines a classic sawtooth star block with a clever alternate lattice or sashing block so the stars nestle more closely together.  I believe this design was created by Marsha McCloskey, one of my quilting heroines, and it is called Stardancer.  Look it up, it's a classic.  I would love one day to do a version using modern fabrics.

The quilt in the book has the extra delight of a pieced border, something I am also a  great fan of generally, especially if it uses up leftover fabric.

The sharp zigzag or chevron border looks complex but it is a doddle to make with strip piecing and rotary cutting.

This is also a good quilt to try because you can organise your scraps into colour families and really play around with the colour placement and value. It's the difference in value of the fabrics in the chevron that give the 3D concertina effect.

So although I am feeling far from Christmassy, with all the May sunshine we have been having and the garden in full bloom, by the time I teach the class Christmas will not be far away.  Just six red and six green 8" star blocks plus 13 gold alternate squares and the 7" chevron border, makes a lap quilt  47" square.  And more cause to celebrate - a holly print fabric from the cupboard will be just big enough for the back with careful piecing. Another one to quilt once camp is over....

Alas, the urge to cut up and chain piece fabric was still not satisfied, so I embarked on another 'clear out the closet' justification for my addiction: seeing all the lovely new 30's reproduction ranges on other blogs (such as Rita's, here, check out her post for Sunday 18 May) made me want to get out my old 30's leftovers from about 10 years ago.  Such happy colours.
 This is the result of my efforts: I'm sure you can guess what it will be?  I will post more in a couple of weeks.

Till then, thank you for visiting my blog.  Have fun, whatever you are working on.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Double Irish Chain revisited

Nowhere near a finish this week but I am posting anyway: a few work-in-progress items.

Last weekend, whilst still feeling virtuous for having finished my scrappy Broken Dishes quilt, I decided to reward myself by cutting up 'new' fabric and starting something else.

I justify this because I am in the process of sorting out what classes I will be teaching in the autumn (at Patchwork Cabin).  Although I always try to offer classes based on quilts I  have already made, so that I have a sample ready to be photographed and go into the shop, I am then immediately convinced that I must make another sample in a different size and fabric style in case the people who might be interested in attending the class don't like the original....

So, having made and blogged about my Scrappy Double Irish Chain (Buttercup, here), this is Double Irish Chain the non-scrappy way:

To be honest, I had forgotten just how quick it is to make a quilt when you restrict yourself to just a few fabrics; the chain piecing is super-fast because you are not agonising about what goes where and the cutting is a breeze - three fabrics rather than three hundred.  So, in the spirit of using what I have, I found the soft pink floral and pale green plaid in the cupboard (approx. 1 metre and half a metre respectively) and used Kona Snow for my background: just enough to make 25 blocks, so that's the size it will be.

I wanted to make the blocks a little smaller that for the Buttercup version, as it's always good to show how different a quilt can be if you change the scale.  Here I worked with 2" cut strips so the blocks finish 7 1/2" (compared with the 10" blocks made with 2 1/2" strips).  This size is rather daintier, I think you'll agree.  Haven't quite finished as I ran out of Snow (now re-stocked): hope to show you a finish by end of next week.  Gosh, now I am committed...

[How annoying: I have just noticed from this photo that I have identical roses almost next to one another, right in the centre of the quilt.  That wouldn't have happened if it had been a scrappy version as I would have had the blocks up on the design wall for weeks, moving patches around!  Ho hum.]

Just enough floral fabric left for a narrow border.  It's some sort of linen, a bit grainy, which looks lovely but frays like mad, so I am keen to get the top layered and quilted without too much delay.

You'll see from the back view that I have split and pressed the seams in opposite directions: this is to try and distribute bulk because the linen is heavier and does not like to fold back on itself.  I hope this will help when I come to the quilting.

 Also started another project, again a second sample for a possible class: just a teaser for now.  More next week.

And on the hand stitching front, I have, rather to my surprise, been making quite good progress on my Giant Dahlia (which I don't think I have shown you before).  It began a while ago in a class with Paula Doyle so I could learn hand-piecing of curves.

I started to call it the Giant Dishcloth because it was so crumpled: no point in constantly ironing something you are handling so much.  Anyway, it sat around for ages because I decided I didn't like the dark grey tone-on-tone fabric I had chosen for the largest round of petals (I was aiming to use only stash fabric so my choices were restricted).

Having tried to find something else and making several bad purchases (what was that about using only stash?), I decided I could live with my original choice and should just get on and finish it.  So that's what I finally did a few weeks ago, and I am now really enjoying the hand quilting, probably because I am just following the piecing lines and don't have to squint at too faint markings...

I love the texture hand quilting gives, but I'm afraid it doesn't photograph all that well: the quilt still looks rather crumpled.  And I don't usually hand quilt with safety pins in place, but I was in a hurry and wanted to spray baste but wasn't sure it would stay together sufficiently, so I added the pins as a precaution.  In fact I think I can get rid of them now the main quilting lines are in place.

Not sure what I am going to do with this quilt when it is finished, but when was that ever a reason for making or not making a quilt?

Enjoy whatever you are working on this week, whether you have a finish or not; it's about the journey, which may take you in unexpected directions...

Friday, 9 May 2014

Broken Dishes, Hidden Stars

Not an awful lot accomplished in the past two weeks, but I did manage to put together the scrap Broken Dishes blocks mentioned in my last post.

The blocks are quite small, just 4" unfinished, from 'bonus' HSTs, the offcuts from a Spools quilt I started in a class with Carolyn Forster in 2011 (and finished in 2013...).  

I was lazy in those days and did not trim my HSTs, so there was a fair amount of fudging involved in putting them together: special mention and thanks must go to my bottle of pressing spray and tank steam iron.  If you spot any missing points... tough: I am just delighted the blocks went together at all!

I saw the layout in Moda Bakeshop recently (Lovely Lattices) and loved the hidden stars, coloured or neutral, which appear and disappear, depending how you squint at the blocks.  

As there are millions of seams, despite pressing to distribute bulk wherever possible, I decided not to risk quilting in the ditch which would have taken the stitch line right through the centre of the lumpiest parts.  Instead I quilted 1/4" or so either side of the seam lines, which actually adds a rather nice and more interesting texture, I think.

The quilting extends out into the borders (which saves a lot of tying in of ends, so always desirable!).

Borders are the width they are (3") because that's all the fabric I had left; binding is from scraps (ditto), cut 2" wide because a small quilt doesn't really want a big fat binding.

Backing is pieced as well, and I joined two bits of wadding with fusible tape, so this really is made all from scraps - my favourite kind of quilt.  Just 36" square, 81 blocks set 9 x 9, it's a whole lot nicer than a bag of bits at the back of the cupboard .  However, I still have an awful lot more bags squirrelled away so I shouldn't get complacent....

Here for comparison are some pictures of the Spools quilt which was the start of it all:

Which do you prefer?  I'm favouring my 'newborn' at the moment.
Do you find yourself making quilts in pairs, to use up what's left from the first project, or is it only me who always buys far more than I need?

I'm linking to Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts today.