Monday, April 05, 2021



 Becky at Quilted twins showed a top she'd finished in her 'green series' of quilts she's making and  it uses a block that I played with last year. I don't know a name for it, so I've been calling it a framed nine patch. 

For some reason I have sooo many green scraps and I have struggled to finally use them all up, but it seems impossible. I made Bonnie Hunter's  Nifty Thrifty quilt from green and maroon scraps and that block is very similar to this one, but it uses two different widths of strips in quite a clever arrangement.

I used 1 3/4" strips for my block and it resulted in a 6 1/4" finished size, so it was pretty cute. They went together so fast it was unbelievable and I didn't want to stop making them, so I didn't. I've continued to make them on and off and plan to keep going until I amass enough for another top. I think I'll set one straight, and another with sashing....who knows. I've always been fascinated by quilters like Tallulah Bottoms  who had certain patterns that they made again and again, and always had pieces cut out for more. There are so many ways to arrange pieced blocks that we can make vastly different looking quilts just by varying the setting scheme. 




I was making these blocks out of scrap browns and greens and thought I had a couple. When I put them on the design wall to photograph for this post I discovered there were 15. It was like the quilt fairies had made them....but I know it's just me being so forgetful I can't remember what I was doing.

I decided to set the green blocks on point, with an alternate plain block so that the green seems to float in a nice airy way.



Then I wanted to use some more of the scrap strips up so I pieced a border of squares on point to surround the blocks. The blocks were on point too, so to calculate the borders I needed to count how many squares in each block along each side and make the borders that size, plus a few more for turning the corners. 

I nearly came undone because I wanted to have a small cream border and was going to cut it 1 3/4" too. Ha! maths was trying to trick me! I needed to cut it the width of the diagonal of the finished 1 2/4" square, plus seam allowance.  Then everything fitted beautifully. I had to attach the cream border first and then the pieced one, because I've tried to piece them together in the past before I fitted each side, and it won't work, people! I do occasionally learn from the mistakes of my past.


I love how fresh and clean this combination of green and cream looks, and the little squares marching around the edge. Some tops are just happy from start to finish, and this was one of them.



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Saturday, March 27, 2021

What a lot of Flannel

I recently came across a big tub of flannel fabric and decided it was time to sort it out. The only flannel I buy is the vintage pieces from the opshop- can't resist that- but many years ago two customers gifted me all their left-overs. Of course I didn't say no, but I don't really want a flannel stash. If I could just use it all up I know I wouldn't replace it, right? (Except for that vintage stuff.)

So I pulled everything out of the tub and sorted it into pastels for baby quilts and brights for older kids and some reproduction bits that are lovely, but.....flannel. The fact that a lot of it wasn't yardage but scraps from other quilts meant that I was limited to what I could cut, and I didn't want too many seams because...flannel. Same for triangles. Eventually I came up with this block, all cut from 2 1/2"strips and pretty brainless. 


It's like this double ninepatch block that Keryn just recently used but the construction is different. I didn't have enough fabric to cut 4 1/2" squares, and my block uses two fabrics (plus the contrasting squares across the middle) so it can be used like a log cabin in a variety of settings.

It was pretty simple to turn most of the pastels into strips and then sub-cut them ready for piecing. The pink solid was quite a large piece that I chopped into squares and the largest amounts I set aside for borders or a backing. It's great when you finally decide on a plan and steam ahead with it!

From each fabric I cut a 2 1/2" square,  a 4 1/2" rectangle,  and a 6 1/2" rectangle.  To piece the block I started with two colours in a pleasing combination and four pink squares, sewing them into a four patch. Although I don't usually do it I pressed the seams open because...flannel.





Then I added the 4 1/2" pieces to the appropriate sides, sewed the remaining two pink squares to the 6 1/2" strips and added them to the middle section. Easy as!


The block can be pieced in rows too, but I just don't like seams all going one way across a design, I find it a bit distracting, but that's just me.


Twenty blocks later I had this little top, and a piece of vintage flannel made a nice border.



I'm super pleased with how quickly this was put together, and I've made another kit to sew later on. All the off-cuts are in the bin and the pile has diminished a bit. I'll keep chipping away at this tub of fabric and cutting out more kits and one day it will all be under control.



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Tuesday, March 16, 2021



 I started these album blocks in 2011 and they'd been sitting around for years. Every now and then I'd sew a bit more, but I had no idea how to set them so I wasn't really motivated. Last year I was determined to finish them and after the blocks were completed I found this toile that seemed to suit them perfectly. It has a slightly greenish cast to the background  which had made it hard to use. It must have been waiting for this UFO all along.



The sashing is a greeny brown and I wanted to have the effect of long unpieced strips so I used a very similar colour at the intersections. This makes it super easy to keep the blocks in line without having to mark anything. 


I cut the setting triangles larger so the blocks could float and not touch the border. I didn't want to have to add a small light border and this gave the same effect with much less hassle. I was debating about the red border, but finlly decided the darker red was just too heavy. It's a luxury having bolts of fabric to choose from, and being able to reel off as many metres as needed.


This beautiful floral was just what was needed for the final touch, even though I had to do some matching of the print to get the lengths I needed. I actually like fiddling around to get the seam perfect, and quite often do it on backings, just for fun.


I'm really pleased with how this turned out. I thought the blocks were a bit boring and the sashing was drab and the toile a "difficult" colour to use. And then they all came together like it was meant to be, and I love it!




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Sunday, March 07, 2021



At one stage last year my little log cabin blocks became all consuming and I couldn't seem to stop sewing them. They were supposed to be leader-enders  but sometimes that concept gets away from me and I end up sewing exclusively on the wrong project.


I have a rule that I can't cut these one inch strips from yardage or large scraps because it was meant to use up the tiny off-cuts that had no other use. I can hear Keryn saying that they have another purpose; to fill up the bin! But even she has admitted the blocks are awful cute.


I finally came to my senses and realised that all my other projects were on hold and the log cabins and little strips had to go away for a while. They seem to be self perpetuating, I was using them as leader-enders for themselves, a pile of  tiny one inch squares spawning the start of another batch, over and over. 



"I'll just finish this lot" I'd say, but then there were another five or ten.... I had to go cold turkey and put them away. I think there are a couple hundred here and I plan to go on making them with all my teeny tiny scraps for years. They will probably be used in more than one quilt but I haven't really got a plan yet.

I'll come back to these little cuties but only when I can trust myself not to get lost in them again.

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Monday, February 15, 2021


 Keryn and I have been collecting mens shirts for quite a few years and recently we went through our collection and got a bit of a shock at just how many there were. Despite always adding to the stash  I had never actually finished a top using them. Keryn has made at least three and I loved them all.

I started this Double Four Patch years ago but was  disappointed in the thirty or so blocks I'd sewn and decided to make a small throw and be done with it.  I've still got dozens of the little four patches and they'll go into another project but I'm  relieved at crossing this off the list. It was beginning to weigh on my mind and once I'd decided to not make any more blocks I was energised about the rest of the shirt stash. I've got another project mainly cut out and another one in the works.

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Monday, February 08, 2021

Keryn said to me the other day "Do you realise that your last post was in October?" No, that couldn't be right! But it was, and somehow the time has just raced away from me. I was sure I took photos for a follow up post on sewing my string quilt but I can't find them so I'll try to take some more.


We had a break from customer quilts in January but despite that I still only managed to quilt one of my tops. This green Sister's Choice has been laying around the workshop for months, with the backing folded up inside it and I was sick of moving the bundle. So it was loaded and quilted in one afternoon, and is now awaiting it's binding. I don't know why we don't do more of our own tops, it's so satisfying to get them moved along. Mind you, Summer is not the best time for quilting here, so that's probably the main reason, now that I think about it.

The piecing remains a priority though, and I  spend several hours a night at the machine. I started 24 new projects last year. (Gulp!) I finished 14 UFO's, and some of the projects were only little but I'm going to have to concentrate on getting things completed, and not just tops.

I don't know when  made this top but it was a few years ago. I thought I'd blogged about it, but it took me ages to find the post, mainly because it was in 2014. I thought it was more recent than that! There's a post here about how I cut it out using the Companion and the Easy Angles, which meant I avoided the flippy corners entirely. I certainly don't need to add any more of them to the huge stash I already have.....

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Tuesday, October 06, 2020

 

I seem to end up with collections of scraps that I don't know what to do with. There was quite a large box full of strips of large florals, toiles, bits leftover from backings that featured large patterns, strips from jellyrolls that varied so much acrosss the width of fabric that they were unusable in any normal way.

One of the first ways of taming these weird pieces is to group them together so you know what you are dealing with and I'd been putting stuff in this container for years. I kept puzzling over what to do and trying to think of some pattern that would bring cohesiveness to such a random assortment of fabric. 
At the start of this year Keryn and I were discussing what we'd like to achieve in our sewing this year, and one resolve was to try different things, in particular something we weren't comfortable with. For me that was string piecing, a style of patchwork I adore but haven't had much luck sticking with.

I loathe the mess it makes! It seems to overwhelm my sewing space and every single seam is a choice and the more you sew, the more mess it makes. I must admit I lose patience with this way of working, but I love the results. I've often joked to Keryn that if I had a separate table and machine and enough space to devote to a "messy corner" I could probably stand it. I like my sewing to be more ordered and in control, I'm afraid.

I saved this picture many years ago and while going through my 'strings' folder in search of inspiration I thought this might be what I was looking for. Varied sizes of strips, so I could use up all of the length of fabric and enough of a pattern to give some structure to the design. Those big florals and strange large patterns and toiles could be used in between more solid strips to calm everything down.

Now I had a plan and drafted a large diamond and cut papers that I could use as a foundation. This much I could handle, and I thought I'd be able to cope with the mess in the heat of inspiration! Wrong! One block was made and then hours of scrabbling and searching and trying out this bit and that resulted in four more diamonds but I'd regressed to hating the whole process. I was left wondering whether to abandon the whole thing.

After more thought (and packing the offending project away out of sight) I may have come up with a plan on how to proceed with this and not drive myself mad. I'll give it another try.....and let you know how it works out!

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