Friday, 24 October 2014

Thimbleberries Mark 2 WIP

Two weeks gone without posting - apologies: just too much other stuff going on and no time for proper sewing, just a few minutes scratched here and there.  Hence I have no finishes to report, and not a huge amount of progress on anything.

I have done what I often end up doing when stressed, and that is getting out things, doing a bit, and then next time picking up something else...  It makes for a very messy house and general confusion. Next week won't be much better but after that I am hoping for some space, mental and physical!

I did stitch together a few pairs of 'picket fence' units left over from the first Thimbleberries WIP, to make star/flower blocks, using plains from the stash for the middles.  I thought I had a photo of the block on the camera (such old technology in our house) but all I seem to have taken is a joyful jumble of stitch and flip waiting to be pressed.

So, my first resolution must be to let you see at least one finished block of the Mark 2 version next week.  I am finding it slightly scary mixing in the plains, but I haven't enough of any other suitable fabric, and I think it maybe gives the traditional block and fabric a slightly more contemporary spin. We'll see when it's finished... but good, I suppose, to try something a bit different.

I hoped to join the Chandelier Quilt-along on Lee's Bernina blog and got as far as sorting out and cutting some fabrics from the stash.  I really don't need to start another quilt right now with everything else that's going on but I do like the block and I've never done a QAL before, plus I have committed to use only stash.  Enough of trying to justify this - I should 'save my breath to cool my porridge' as my Scottish relatives used to say!

Anyway in my enthusiasm (aka haste) to cut the pieces I managed to cut through a tape measure I had carelessly left too near my cutting board.  Even I can't salvage that one!

Second resolution: to show you at least one finished Chandelier block next post.

Finally, a little bit of peace for hand sewing in the middle of the week and I made progress on my EPP WIP.  I am fairly happy with the way this is going now.  If I make three more 'lozenges' to complete the bottom row, then half 'lozenges' for the sides and top and bottom, that will give me a centre measuring about 36", which I think will be big enough.  This is my take-along project at the moment, and it won't be finished in a hurry, so no resolutions/deadlines for this one.

I hope you are managing to make better progress on your projects than I am.  Have a happy weekend.  Next week is our school half-term, but it is shaping up to be even busier at home than this week.  I will try to stick to my resolutions...

Friday, 10 October 2014

Thimbleberries top finished and a 'new' WIP

I did make progress on the Thimbleberries WIP blogged about last Wednesday (here) and the top is completed, so I can claim this as a finish and link to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

I laid out all the blocks on the design wall last Saturday and decided that I didn't altogether like the book layout, and that what I really wanted was more sashing.

So after trawling through every box of fabric I possess (which took some time) I found the remains of a much loved and much used tan fabric, which was in fact also made by Thimbleberries (I had forgotten till I checked the selvage).

Double split sashing and cornerstones added, and I am very happy with the result.  I like the fact that the dark sashing is broken by the light cornerstones, which themselves are framed by the four coloured squares at the ends of the diagonals.

It's a big quilt so you can't quite see all of the 16 blocks in the photo; each measures 18" and the basic units, the squares and sashing, are all 2" finished.  It will look just right on a big bed.  No borders required so I hope to straight-line quilt next week.

The other WIP I worked on this week relates back to the Album Quilt I made and blogged about here. As usual, I had fabric left over, and about a dozen nine-patches already made and needing a home.  I had been toying with a number of possible settings for some months, and finally decided on an alternate hourglass block (an oldie but a goodie, I hope you'll agree).

I found red and green fabric in the stash, left over from other projects of course, and made the hourglass blocks to fit with the 6" (finished) nine-patches (I had to make a few more).

I trimmed the hourglasses with Marsha McCloskey's Precision Trimmer ruler, which I have had for a long time and not really put to good use before.  It is fantastic, because it has the diagonal lines for lining up the x of the hourglass exactly - no need to guess as you would with a regular bias square.  I actually enjoyed the trimming!

I joined the blocks and stepped back for a look - it reminded me of nothing so much as a field of crosses; and the red and green hourglasses framing the crosses said 'poppies' to me, though one usually thinks of a rather brighter red for a poppy.

So this is  clearly meant to be my Remembrance quilt for 2014, and my aim is to have it finished by November 11th.  I hope you don't think this is too morbid - close up you don't really register the crosses and it just looks like a nice, dark, rather masculine quilt.

But it's not finished.  
I thought it was, but on reflection I want all my crosses to be framed by red poppies, and that includes the blocks on the outer edges of the quilt, so I need to add a border.  The border needs to have red triangles to complete the frame and green strips in between. I suppose these are parallelograms but I worked them out as border strips with 45 degree triangles lopped off.

This was my test piece to see that I had got the measurements right.

And here are my border strips ready to attach.  Tune in next week!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Whirly Windmills finished

Happy to report a small-ish finish this week.  I quilted and bound the Whirly Windmills baby/toddler quilt I showed you here.

It finished at 45" square, so quite a good size for a growing child to enjoy.  Size was determined by how many blocks I could make from two Charm packs - I had not one scrap left over.  In fact the sharp eyed among you may have spotted that one of the blocks (top left in the pic above) has four patches in the corners.  This is because I initially planned to make a different block with this collection, but after making a sample I changed my mind.  So cobbling together the four patches from the pieces I had already cut was the only way I could complete my sixteenth windmill block.

This is a lovely easy pattern for beginner quilters (especially if you decide to skip the cornerstone pinwheels) as the only place your points have to meet is in the middle of the block.  Whilst this is quite an important place, it does help to only have one place per block to really have to get it right!

The sashing happened because the quilt was just too busy with the blocks placed edge to edge.  I guess if I had chosen a calmer background fabric I could have made more blocks with the Charm squares and then would have got a secondary windmill pattern where the blocks butted up to one another.  Oh well, maybe in the next version?

Plus I wanted to use the bonus triangles I made from the stitch and flip corner cut-offs, and sashing cornerstones was one way to do it.  See, I said I used every scrap!

Sashing width was determined by the size of the pinwheels which I trimmed to 3", and I think I bought a metre of fabric for the sashing (I had a bit left over which I added to the backing fabric to get the right width).

The backing is hard to see on the photo but it is white with a light blue swirly design (Basically Hugs by Helen Stubbings for Red Rooster Fabrics) which I feel is in keeping with the idea of windmills whirling in the wind.

The quilting is pretty straightforward; I chose to use the structure of the quilt to define my quilting lines, rather than an allover evenly spaced grid.  So I first quilted in the ditch along the sashing lines, then through the middle of the sashing which bisects the cornerstone pinwheels.  Then I quilted through the diagonal of the large pinwheels in the centres of the blocks.  Finally, I felt I needed to do a little more so that the amount of quilting would be fairly consistent across the quilt: I added quilting lines vertically and horizontally through the blocks.  Although the spacing is irregular it is not random and it gives a great texture on the back as well as the front.

 Binding is a skinny orange stripe, cut 2" doublefold for a nice narrow edge.  Just lifts the slightly chilly blue/white.

Don't you love a rolled quilt?  Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts here for Finish it up Friday.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Thimbleberries WIP resurrected

Long ago, when I first started patchwork and quilting in the early 90's, country colours were all the rage and Thimbleberries one of the biggest and best names.  I still love their warm, rich shades of tan, green, blue, red and gold for cosy winter quilts.

You won't be surprised to learn that I still have fabric and UFO's from those days in my cupboard, so, having recently been working with new and bright fabrics, I felt the need to dig out an old(er) and duller (but in a good way) WIP.

There is a bit of a saga attached to this one which I will try to keep short.  Basically I thought I wanted to use all my Thimbleberries fabrics to make a quilt following one of the designs in the original Nickel Quilts book by Path Speth and Charlene Thode.

(BTW the cover quilt is my all time favourite from the book but I haven't got my act together on that one yet).

The pattern I intended to make is called Arlington Road and I duly set to and did a lot of cutting and a lot of lovely chain piecing BUT.... then I decided I didn't like the design as much as I thought, or at any rate not in the colours I had chosen. So, I shoved it all back in the cupboard where it has been festering for goodness knows how long.

This past week I have had a little more time and seem to have been a little more focused, so dug it out and chose another pattern from the same book which would use all my hundreds of four-patches and large half square triangles:  the result is Buffalo Ridge, which is a sort of modified Jacob's Ladder, I think.

Anyway I liked the setting with sashing and the maths worked, so happy to report I now have sixteen large (18") blocks, each made up of four smaller blocks and sashing strips, ready for setting together.

The only problem is that I have some of the other components of the original design left over... but I think I may have found another quilt design which will use these up, so watch this space!

Do you find that somehow one quilt always leads to another, or is that just me???

Linking to Lee at Freshly Pieced - I love her Modern Solids Challenge quilt - for WIP Wednesday.