Friday, 17 March 2017

Finish it up Friday - Zen quilts

Hello everyone, I am posting two finished quilts today as part of a continuing roundup of WIPs which I have managed to quilt and finish since the beginning of the year. I have nearly caught up with posting, but not with finishing all my WIPs, though progress has been made!

This has come about because I decided in November that I really should prioritise finishing some tops I have had languishing for far too long: they won't quilt themselves after all! So I have tried to be good and not to start too many new projects recently - but it is so hard: sometimes my brain feels like it is bursting to make three more quilts for every one I manage to finish: do you ever feel like that?

This pair of quilts are made mostly from a range by Makower called Zen which was around probably ten years ago.  When they surfaced during a big sort out, I found that I had pieced the large quilt and that I had allocated a brown floral fabric as a backing.

After measuring I realised I couldn't add a border as the backing would not then be large enough, so I decided  on a quilt without borders -  it is 72" square or thereabouts - and that I would quilt diagonals across every square but in alternate directions so the quilting would not be too dense and stiff. The binding is a pink tone-on-tone which also appears in the quilt.

I'm sure you will be familiar with the quilt's pattern: it is Scrappy Trips around the World by Bonnie Hunter (tutorial here), a design I have made before and love. I am a big fan of her super-speedy methods for making big quilts which use lots of fabrics.  Here the strips are 2 1/2" so the blocks finish at 12".

However I still had quite a few strips left over, as the strip set method yields enough for two blocks and a few extra strips over and above: you know how I hate not using every scrap, especially when already part-pieced, so I resolved to make a second quilt with the leftovers.

I decided therefore to make a super scrappy Bargello - also a Bonnie Hunter design (tutorial here), which I have made before and also love.  I added in a few extra strips which bulked out some of the shortfall, and then spent ages shuffling the blocks around until I got a design which more or less worked without repetition.

So here is the finished Scrappy Bargello quilt which measures 48" square. Not quite such a useful size but it would look good draped on a chair to accessorise with the larger bed quilt.

I found a large floral fabric in my stash which picked out the soft greens, browns and pinks, (I used a little of this fabric in the blocks too) and a green print this time for the binding, so the quilts are twins but not identical .

I am pleased to have completed this pair of quilts and to have made something useful and useable from the bag at the back of the cupboard. Indulge me in a few more photos, and then go and admire Amanda Jean's lovely finish at Crazy Mom Quilts today.

Have a great weekend, whatever you are working on.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

WIP Wednesday - mini QAL

Hi all, and can I just thank everyone who has taken the trouble to visit my blog over the past few weeks, now that I have actually got back into posting more often. I really appreciate it, even more if you have been kind enough to leave a comment. It is so nice to feel connected to other quilters out there.

This week I am plugging away with quilting another old-ish WIP which had reached the finished top stage some time ago. I am in the zone now, and quite enjoy having the Juki set up with walking foot and putting in the lines of quilting, it doesn't need too much in the way of thought, once a decision has been made just how the top will be quilted. The bit I'm not so keen on is the layering... 

In between though, I have been working on something new: I mentioned the two young women I have been teaching to sew over the past few months and our excursion to purchase fabric for their first quilts (towards the end of this post). Well, I decided that I should quilt along with them, and try and keep one jump ahead, just to troubleshoot any problems you understand, but really because I wanted to join in the fun.

So here is what I have been doing. Needless to say, I couldn't really justify buying a new layer cake when I have so much fabric stashed, so my challenge was to use the pinks and greens I had set aside for another project (can't now remember what) some considerable time ago. There are quite a few fabrics from an early collection by Tanya Whelan, Grand Revival, plus others from the stash which I thought might work too.

Pinks and greens are not really my usual choice but I must have liked the fabric or I wouldn't have bought it, and it's good to challenge oneself now and then. Certainly the palette is very fresh and Spring-like, so it feels right for today when the sun is shining and the buds are about to break into leaf.

You will also see that I have made a small mountain of blocks, partly because, as usual, I purchased far more fabric than needed, and partly because I must have always intended to make a large quilt, having bought 5 metres of the lovely green and white floral fabric from the range...

I hope to show you my students' fabric choices next week when they have got a few more of their blocks together, but for now, if you'd like to have a look at the pattern we are using, it is Squares and Strips Bed Quilt by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew and here is the link to the free tutorial.

The blocks are quick and easy to make and it is a great quilt for a beginner. I modified the cutting so we could use Layer Cakes to avoid waste and yet provide a good variety of prints for relatively little outlay.  I will show you that next week if you are interested, plus some of the girls' blocks if they will let me!

Hope you make progress on your current WIP this week!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Friday - Finished up Leftovers

Another week gone and I have a finish to share.  

This little quilt expresses all I love best about patchwork and quilting.  It is made with the nine- patches and fabrics I had left over from making the Wedding Stars quilt (see this post), a quilt I loved making for two special young people, so my leftover quilt will always have particular meaning for me as a reminder of them and their wonderful wedding day.

It is a double nine patch - who doesn't love a nine-patch, and more of them has to be even better? And I used a number of stash fabrics, which I also love doing, to enlarge and enrich, even the plain teal binding came from stash (I've got a large stash...).  The country colours are easy to live with and the blocks are all extremely scrappy: the only constants are that I have separated the blues and reds, as I did for the original quilt. 

I did take a bit of trouble over the seam allowances to help the blocks lie flat.  Here's a shot of the back of the blocks.  It is a little harder to spin the seam allowances with a nine patch block compared with a four patch, but so worth doing. 

I now pretty much do it as a matter of course whenever it is possible, as it does help to avoid that lumpy bump or ridge on the front of the quilt.  It makes it less likely the needle will jump or drag when you are machine quilting across the blocks too.

The quilt measures  61" x 78". The nine patches are 4 1/2" finished, so the twenty large double nine-patch blocks measure 13 1/2" finished, sashed with 1 1/2" strips and cornerstones.  

The quilt is backed with brushed cotton plaid for extra snuggle appeal. I have kept the quilting fairly minimal, just in the ditch beside the sashing and across the diagonals of the nine-patch blocks, so the quilt is soft and cosy.  I felt an allover crosshatch would be too strong, and I wanted the fabrics to be the stars of this modest quilt.

Have a great weekend and I hope you enjoy your leftovers too!  Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

A jewel of a finish

Hi everyone, hope you have had a good weekend.  I managed a finish for Finish it up Friday - I stitched down the binding late Thursday night - but bad weather meant I failed to get the photos done in time for a link up.

Here it is anyway: my Thimbleberries Jewel Box quilt.  I've been working on quilting it all this week, but it is yet another top which I pieced a long time ago.

I have seen the design called Buckeye Beauty in Marsha McCloskey's book Quick Classic Quilts - this may have something to do with the placement of darks, mediums and lights in that featured quilt. I don't have time to research the name properly at the moment, sorry, and mine is just scrappy anyway.

The quilt is quite large, measuring 76" x 91". There are 80 blocks set 8 x 10, plus a narrow inner border finishing at 1 1/2" and outer border finishing at 5".  The blocks are 8" finished, each one is made up of two half square triangles and two four-patches.

This is a great way of using up scraps - you will need lots of 2 1/2" strips or squares, and 5" squares, so it is good for pre-cuts or leftovers from other pre-cuts projects. I have put all sorts into this quilt although it is predominantly country style colours and textures, with lots of old Thimbleberries prints from other projects.

I had such fun making these blocks and scouring my stash and scrap bags, that I find I have made enough blocks for another, equally large, quilt - so there will eventually be a pair.  Slightly embarrassing, but better to use the fabric than have it sitting around forever.

The backing was from a sale many moons ago, and I was thrilled to find a moody purple Kansas Troubles fabric in my stash which works perfectly with front and back. I'm not really a purple person - I think I may have said that before - but I am coming round to its charms and the useful place it has, being not red nor blue, neither of which would have been right for binding this quilt.

I had fun with the quilting, having done cross hatching for the last few quilts and getting ever so slightly bored with it.  I started out with the crosshatching here for stability, but then added the quatrefoil/fourpetal shape in the squares-on-point : this is easy to do as you can work it without turning the quilt more than three times (imagine a series of serpentine curves).

I then did straight line quilting in the inner border - another favourite - before turning my attention to the outer border.  Here I felt I wanted to do a crosshatch lining up with the diagonal lines in the middle of the quilt.  But the spacing wasn't quite right to be able to stitch in a way which avoided too many ends to tie in.

Then I realised that if I doubled the lines I could stitch a series of overlapping V- shapes on and off the edge of the quilt which would create the design you see here.  Plus it is more interesting than just a simple crosshatch.  I love a solution which comes from necessity and/or utility, plus almost no ends to tie in - what a great result!

A nice big quilt to snuggle under on the sofa! Hope you have a good week and manage to fit in a bit of stitching.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Friday finishes - long overdue

Gosh, Friday again: where has the week (and most of February) gone? I have had a busy week but managed to fit in some sewing, so I can post a couple of finished quilts.

It is not as impressive as it might seem as one of these was quilted in November and has been waiting patiently for me to handstitch down the binding. For proof see this post.

And the other was being quilted when I posted here.

So basically I have stitched down two bindings this week - big deal! But great to have both finished at last.

First of all is the Madras Star and Lattice, a quilt top I pieced many years ago but which I still like, though I would probably use something other than plain old calico (muslin) for the background if I was making it now.

It's always interesting to revisit a quilt from one's past and see how fashions in quilting fabrics and designs have changed, as in so many other things. But given that we all still like to look at quilts from the 19th century, I am holding out for this one being considered quaint and homely - though our great grandmothers would probably have done a bit more quilting....

This is quite a large quilt, measuring 76" x 95".  The blocks are 9 1/2" finished, so the squares from which the blocks are constructed would have been cut 3".  

This makes a big quilt with relatively few blocks (set 7 x 9, there are 32 Star blocks and 31 Lattice blocks) but I think I would be inclined, if I were to make this design again, to scale it down and use 2 1/2" strips and squares for slightly daintier 8" finished blocks.

The second quilt is from a design/pattern by Jo Kramer posted on Moda Bakeshop back in 2011, and I guess I probably pieced the top around then. It is called Chain of Faith, and I made up my top using lots of different neutrals from my stash and a single beautiful Moda red floral. 

There is something about the Moda reds which is so attractive, I am always drawn to the reds in every Moda collection and it's easy on the eye - not so demanding as the Kaffe Fassett reds in my last couple of posts!

Here are some closeups to show the range of neutrals I chose to add interest (and use up some of my stash!).  The great thing about using a large floral for the 'solid' is that it reads the same at a distance but each cut square is subtly different as the large pattern is chopped up randomly.  Plenty to keep the eye travelling across the quilt.

This is another fairly large quilt at 88" square and I chose to quilt a simple cross hatch to keep the quilt soft and drapey and to get it finished. A good quilt for snuggling on the sofa on a grey day.

I am delighted to be able to link to Crazy Mom Quilts today for Finish it up Friday - do go and visit and admire Amanda Jean's latest finished quilt, it's gorgeous!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

KF reds - quilt

Here are pictures of the Kaffe Fassett red quilt  I mentioned in my last post.  I thought it wold be better to show them as a separate post as I ended up taking lots more photos than I intended!

I think it is the intensity and richness of the red prints and the subtle sheen of the Oakshott shot cotton 'plain' - seems so wrong to call it it a plain/solid when sot cottons have so much more depth and life - which make my heart sing.

This was such a simple quilt to make: as you can probably see from the close ups, each block is made from four smaller blocks put together in a sort of 'doughnut' shape.  

I think I started with a 4 1/2" square of KF print (this was made in the days before 5" charm squares became so popular and available) and added 2 1/2" shot cotton stitch and flip corners.

The block finishes at 8" anyway.  I hate waste and that, to me, is the only drawback of stitch and flip; so I stitched an extra parallel seam half an inch away from the diagonal before I cut, and saved the offcut HSTs which I made into the sawtooth border, grouping them in sets of four for a change, rather than randomly.  It's because I still had some of these bonus HSTs left over that I made the table runner featured in the previous post.

I really love the sawtooth border, I feel it adds such a lot of interest to the quilt in providing contrast between the rounded shape of the doughnuts, and it's more interesting than a single fabric border.  Of course, using up leftovers is always satisfying too.  

Generally I find I always have fabric left when I am coming towards the end of piecing a quilt (as I tend to buy far more than I need, just to be safe...) and I often try to see whether I can use this in a pieced border.  It can make a quilt more interesting and unique, so why not give it some thought next time you are working on something.

Quilts stats: Finished quilt 62" x 69", made up of 56 blocks set 7 x 8.  Main block finishes at 8" and HSTs finish at 1 1/2" so the borders are 3" wide.  Scrappy binding and luscious KF stripe on the back. Longarm quilted by Susie Green, and I have a note that it was completed in May 2011, so pieced probably a couple of years before that (gosh, I have been making quilts a long time - this still seems quite a recent one...).