Sunday, 20 July 2014

Needing directions?

I've been making up samples for a forthcoming class on Mariner's Compass, and had a successful result.  I used the pattern and method in Judy Matheison's book, and found both straightforward and clear.

The 16 point compass is easy enough, once you're familiar with paper piecing, so this should go down well.  (After the recent class where we made feathered stars, this should be a piece of cake!  And just in case anyone should feel insecure about tackling this one, I have an easy-peasy option.
This little cutie is pretty straightforward, especially if you have something interesting in the centre.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Clover hobo tote bag

I have agreed to teach a class to make the Clover Hobo Tote Bag designed by Nancy Zieman.  I've never noticed the Clover bag patterns on sale anywhere, and I've certainly never met anyone who's made one.  There is actually a good range of patterns, from lap top and ipad covers, shopping bags, handbags and shoulder bags, and the clever thing is that they have Perspex patterns which are stable enough for you to trace round directly onto the fabric!  What a great idea!  Added to which, the instructions are very detailed, and full of diagrams (very reminiscent of a dress pattern) so what's not to like?  Well, the price reflects all this detail and thought.  These patterns are at least twice as much as any bag pattern I've bought before, so are they worth it?
Firstly the Perspex pattern shape.  It seems a good idea, until you're trying to draw round it and it's sliding about all over the place!  Then when I was cutting along the traced lines with scissors, I rather longed for my rotary cutter.  However, the fact that you can easily mark positions for pockets, feet and closures directly through holes in the Perspex made me reconsider. 
Secondly, the instructions.  These were very clear and had good tips, until it came to attaching the binding round the curved top of the bag.  Nancy asks you to cut the binding at 3", fold in half and sew round the curve.  Here is the resultant pig's ear I made of it - and that's after unpicking it once!     
I usually make my bindings 2.5", so 3" seems rather excessive, and if I, as a fairly experienced sewer, have made such a poor job, how will my pupils fare?  So I started again, and cut the binding at 2.25". 

Even that wasn't perfect, but it was good enough. 

Here is another view, showing the lining fabric.

And here is the completed bag.  Looking good.  So would I use another Clover pattern?  Probably.  The instructions were very clear, and I learned how to use fusible wadding, bag feet (really easy) and a magnetic closure (very easy), and although the pattern was pricey, the results are very professional looking.  Now where can I go to show it off?! 

Friday, 11 July 2014

Thanks, Amanda

I knew there would be some kind soul out there with a solution to my 'Dear Jane' problem.  (I had about 70 blocks, and wanted a way of making them 'knit up big' so I could make them up into a double quilt.)  Amanda, you are a star!  She suggested putting the blocks on point!  What a great idea!
On point blocks not only knit up big, but always look more dynamic and interesting than the same blocks square on.  Here's an idea of how they will look.  I've joined up the top right hand section, and the rest of the blocks are only in provisional placings.  There will be easily enough blocks for an 8 x 8 setting, so I'll see what that looks like when I get there.  Hooray!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Back to the drawing board

I have bought some fabric to make the frames for Rhi's Dear Jane quilt, but despite the fact that I had the help of Muriel, Carole, Liz and Paula, it hasn't worked out.  I didn't want a plain fabric, I wanted something with a bit of interest, and this one looked good in the shop. 
But as you can see, it's got interest, but isn't dark enough to make the DJ blocks stand out.  So, it's back to the drawing board.  I had originally thought I might join the blocks together without sashing (that's why there are a roughly equal number of light and dark backgrounds) so maybe I could go back to that idea. 

I bought a mottled blue batik which I think will be better as a contrast, and wondered if I could put plain squares between the blocks. 

That would certainly bulk them out.  Any ideas out there?

Sunday, 29 June 2014


I have never been one to let existing UFOs get in the way of a new project, so when I saw that Pam Rocco had designed a cowboy block, I had to give it a go!  It's based on the old tin man block, and if you fancy it, it's a web extra from 'Quilter's Newsletter' and you can find it here.
This will make a great Linus quilt, and when I was looking for border fabric, I found this great cow print - how good is that?

It even has blue in it to tie in with the sashing!  Lucky find!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Dear Jane blocks

Not much sewing has taken place recently, due to the fact that we've been away, but now we're back (and I've recovered from my stint on my soapbox!) I have made a foray into the sewing room.  DS met up with some old friends, and Rhiannon asked him if I could make a quilt for her.  Apart from the fact that I love making quilts, I made one a few years back for Mic, so I think it's fair to make one for Rhiannon too.  But then there is the problem of what she wants.  'Traditional and in blues or blues and greens.'  Well, that shouldn't be too hard.  Then I thought about my 'Dear Jane' blocks, which were all in blues.  Could I get them together for Rhi?  I got them out, and I'd made 55 blocks, so wanted a way of making them knit up big.  How about this for an idea?
I'm not a fan of sashing, and had planned to join them without sashing anyway, so there will be a nine-patch in the middle, surrounded by a wide frame of a patterned blue fabric, then a frame of DJ blocks, another of the blue fabric, another DJ and another blue.  Then borders.  I only have 19 more blocks to make and we're off! 

Saturday, 24 May 2014


I just thought I'd have a little rant about how success can go to the heads of the best of us - and by the best of us, I mean quilters!  And in particular, those quilters who see themselves as important and knowledgeable enough to do talks and teach workshops.  Recently I heard about a quilter who came to speak to a group and just brought photos of her quilts, as 'they were all being exhibited at the moment'!  Not good enough.  Then there was the speaker who showed slides of her work (wait - it gets worse!) and said partway through the show that she'd lost her notes so couldn't remember exactly what some of the images were 'but it's OK!'  It is certainly not OK, not when she was charging nearly £200 for her talk!  Add to this the speaker who wouldn't use a head mike because 'my hair is so soft, it'll fall off'' and the one who declined the mike because 'everyone will be able to hear me', or those who have to be asked to face their audience, not the screen, who read from pages of notes, who won't get on the stage because they are nervous, or have obviously done the talk so many times, even they are bored with it!  Then there are the teachers who are obviously very talented and creative people, but couldn't teach their grandmothers to suck eggs, those who are rude about people's sewing machines, choice of fabrics or work, have only one way of explaining something, and if you don't understand it's your fault, not theirs.  We don't expect to pay to do a workshop and be insulted, which is what it amounts to. 
Of course, the majority of speakers and teachers I have encountered turn up on time, properly prepared, are knowledgeable, generous and personable,  They carry out whatever has been arranged and leave us delighted and inspired.  They must get plenty of praise, but I feel we shouldn't be bullied into being polite about those speakers and teachers who aren't up to the job. 
What do you think?