Thursday, September 16, 2021

The blocks are set together

The top is in one piece and I think I'll just have a narrow border and then the binding. It's only about 72" square, but I didn't want a big quilt anyway. I'm happy with this and I didn't get sick of making it, which sometimes happens with such repetitive patterns.

Now I can put away the fabrics, tidy up and get stuck into the next project....


Monday, September 13, 2021

The right time

I saved this photo on ebay more than 20 years ago and have always wanted to recreate the pattern. It's funny how I've looked at this for so long and suddenly it seems the right time to start it. I love the stripes and madders and browns, and also the variations in the lights. They make subtle stripes across the quilt and I knew the challenge of that would keep me interested.

I wanted the pink to be one constant fabric but I only had about a metre of the 'perfect' choice. My back-up stash (Keryn) didn't have any to contribute so I knew I'd have to be careful and eke it out. 

I started using flippy corners, but my goodness, the waste! I knew that couldn't continue.


The cut-off corners from two blocks equaled nearly a 3" square: Unacceptable!! And no, they are far too tiny to piece together. They would be less than a 1" square when finished and I'm not going there.

So I tried triangles with the corners nubbed, hoping that would still allow me to position the corner correctly without having to waste that precious pink fabric. 

I had to be pretty careful, but it worked. Not all the blocks and intersections are perfect but the pattern is very forgiving and I made great progress.

I'm so far along I'm wondering if I need to have a border or just a binding and looking forward to putting all the browns away for a spell.


Saturday, September 04, 2021

Life is busy, as always, looking after these two gorgeous girls. Big sister Izzy is in her second year of school but their birthday is about two weeks beyond the cut-off for school and kindy intake. That means the twins won't go to kindy until next year and to school the year after that. I'm not in any great hurry to see them off, I loved having my boys at home and they grow so quickly that I want to savour each step of the way.

They are both so different in personality as well as looks. Mia is now 7cm taller than Lily and on the 97th percentile, Lily on the 55th. They play together so well which is a blessing because most of the time they just amuse themselves and their little games are so funny. Even though twins are a lot of hard work early on, they're easier now because there's always someone to play with.

In sad news, son Matt's old dog Macca had to be put down, after nearly 15 years of joyful participation in life. He was a wonderful dog, full of fun and the most positive attitude and he adored people of every description. Matt originally wanted him as a guard dog and was sorely disappointed by his love of humanity.

They used to live near a hall where meetings were held and Macca started attending each one, doing circuits of the room to welcome them all, like a character from a James Herriot story. So he had to be restrained on those nights, to his disgust.

I didn't put it on the blog but Pippi also died a year ago.  We still have Keryn's Dolly who is an old lady of 10.(I think) She  has moments of craziness and tearing around but most of the time she dozes in the sun, with the cat for company.

This is the last picture of Macca, and the only time I ever patted him that he didn't wag his tail, he was so miserable. We knew it was time. 

We could all learn a lot from his attitude to life.



Saturday, May 22, 2021

Rabbit hole

I disappeared down a huge rabbit hole when I decided to tackle that bin of flannel fabric. I wish I'd thought to take a picture of it to show how much I've actually dealt with, but in my enthusiasm I forgot. 

I cut and sewed enough of my 'staircase blocks' for at least two large quilts, around 150 blocks in all. I cut some 3 1/2" squares for a simple top, and 2 1/2" squares for a nine patch set with 6" blocks. The fabric  leftover was transferred to a much smaller tub and and I continued to whittle it down in a most satisfactory way.

And then I was faced with this....
Flannel strings!! I did NOT want to piece a block with anything smaller than 2 1/2"" increments and I kept telling myself to throw them out. Throw Them Out!! 

I hate the string piecing technique, even if I love the effect. 

I didn't even want to piece with flannel when it came down to it. 

I was just trying to get rid of the whole stash of this. 

So why did I care about some strips at all? THROW ....THEM.....OUT!

Sigh, you know where this is going right? I started making half log cabins... not really string piecing, is it? Most of the strings were fairly even so the wonkiness wasn't exaggerated, and I could square up the final round.

OK, I could handle this, and I was sorta interested in seeing how far this pile of strips would take me. That was further than I imagined because I kept cutting for the other projects and added to the pile every day.

By then obsession had set in and I was more involved with the strings than the kits and blocks I was making.  I had to forcibly restrain myself from cutting strips for what was turning out to be a rather ugly top. I don't quite know how that happens, but here I was.

I had the idea of setting them with some very dark green strips into sets of four, which took way more brain power than it was worth because they were all different sizes. Then I was faced with a pile of much smaller scraps and squares which I pieced into sashing strips.

I put it on the design wall to photograph it and thought "Why did I bother?" It can only be a wall hanging because of it's size and it's rather overpowering in real life. I suppose I've learnt some things from the experience, namely that I can actually use strings if I stick at it, that it's hard to use up ALL the offcuts from such a limited stash source and I can be sidetracked by projects I'm not even that interested in.


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.


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.


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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