Sunday, 11 March 2018

Update on January - before March is over!

Warning: picture heavy post!

Hi there!  I have been a bit preoccupied with various things recently and realise that I haven't posted about a couple of quilts I finished in January.  As February March races away (thank goodness: we have just had snow and very cold temperatures, for the UK), I thought I should record the rest of January's work.

I went a bit mad in January to be honest, as the weather was mostly miserable, and I know that there will be a ton of stuff to do in the garden which will take priority in March/April.  I didn't let myself do any piecing at all but layered several quilts and concentrated just on the quilting.

As it is such a major effort to clear the dining room table to lay out quilt tops, I have found that layering  several quilts at a time works well.  It is not my favourite part of quiltmaking as it always seems as though one is spending a lot of time not actually sewing, after allowing for all the measuring, joining the backing, pressing, de-threading, and finally, layering, plus I often mark any straight quilting lines at this stage with a Hera marker.

End result was that I managed to complete four quilts in January, two already blogged and the two I am showing you now.  I also did most of the quilting on another quilt but have got stuck on how to quilt a couple of areas - till inspiration strikes that one is still a UFO.

It may sound good but I am ashamed at how long these quilt tops have been lying around in the UFO pile.  I did manage to buy the backing fabric in the summer when I was at Cowslip Workshops.  The gray taupe cost an arm and a leg as woven taupes always do, but it is gorgeous and I did want it.  However I offset the cost by managing to get the backing for the Disappearing Hourglass in their sale!

So first up is the Gray Taupe:

I made most of the blocks for this quilt when I did a class several years ago with the lovely Jo Colwill at Cowslip, my favourite place to visit in the South West. In the past I always managed to wangle a visit if we were holidaying in Cornwall when the kids were small; this year we will be holidaying in Cornwall (without the kids) just so I can do a couple more workshops there!

Anyway, as so often happens the blocks lay there while I tried to decide on a layout (and got distracted by other projects and life in general). I put them together eventually and then didn't get any further for want of a backing fabric. Turning out cupboards caused the top to reappear and I took it with me to Cornwall in the summer and bought the backing. A few more months on and it is finally finished - hooray!

The quilting didn't take all that long once I got down to it. I knew I wanted to do concentric parallel lines with the walking foot and it's not too big a quilt to wrestle through the machine.

This quilt measures 64"x 82" and came about because I had accumulated an awful lot of taupe fat quarters over the years when I worked in a quilt shop.  I have used many of the medium tones in other projects, and was left with the lights and with darks in the blue/grey palette. I therefore chose a block pattern and setting which would make the most of the contrast in value.

The individual blocks measure 4" finished and there 320 blocks (gosh, that sounds a lot!) which are set 16 x 20. The block is made up of a dark large triangle, a dark square and two small light triangles. The block is called 'Review' in Marsha McCloskey's book Block Party, but I think it may also go by the name of Grandmother's Choice or something similar.  As so often in quilting, old blocks accumulate many names.

Yes, thanks to the power of the internet, I have just done a quick search and found lots of images for Grandmother's Choice.  Like Log Cabin, it is a half and half block in design terms - half dark, half light, so can be arranged in many different ways.

Now for something which I thought was completely different but actually I see definite similarities: here is another quilt which relies on good contrast for its design to read clearly, and although scrappy it is essentially a monochrome quilt.  Well, they make quite good partners for this post, don't they?

This is my version of the Disappearing Hourglass quilt for which you can get a tutorial from Missouri Star Quilts online.  I made a floral version back in 2015: you can see those posts here and here (second half of post contains my tips for making the blocks).

As I said in the earlier post, I don't like the method for making half square triangles which that tutorial uses as it results in bias edges on the outside of all the HSTs.  With a technique which involves cutting and restitching as this does, it seems to me to be asking for trouble, and I would recommend that you make your HSTs by conventional methods which keep the bias seam on the diagonal and safely stitched into the block.

It seems I was making the blocks for this little quilt back in October 2016 (here) so not quite as old a WIP as many of my projects...

This quilt measures 49" x 57" and there are 56 seven inch blocks set 7 x 8.  As with the floral version, I first of all ditch quilted the blocks with a walking foot, but as much as possible I wanted to avoid the seam allowances and bumpy intersections.  Using the points of the stars as a guide, the additional straight lines frame the stars and create an irregular grid across the surface.

The backing fabric I absolutely love: I have lost the selvage but I think it was part of a Di Ford collection, and it has that quirky 19th century look about it.  The colours were a perfect match for the FQ collection I used for the blocks, bought quite a while ago from Patchwork Cabin, my LQS which specialises in reproduction fabrics.  It was by Barbara Brackman for Moda but I can't remember what the fabric line was called.  The only selvage I have is for a blue equivalent to the red fabric in the photo above; it's labelled 'Cornshuck Hat 1850-1874' which I include for curiosity value!

The binding was made from the offcuts of a backing for another quilt (shown here): so satisfying when that happens.  I had almost enough, and used a scrap of one of the FQs left to fill the gap.

Right, enough photos - time for more sewing: there are still plenty of UFOs requiring attention!  Linking today (very belatedly) to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts (go and look at the beautiful Log Cabin top), though I did write this post on Friday: I just forgot to post it!  Hope you have had a productive and enjoyable weekend.


  1. BOTH of these quilts are fabulous finishes!! I have to say, I would have a tough time choosing a favorite. I'm in a gray mood today, so I'll take the Taupe! :o))

  2. Two wonderful finishes - congratulations!!!