Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Happy Halloween!

I find it hard to understand why anyone should be wished a Happy Halloween, as the whole notion of Halloween is about ghosts, witches, horror and death, but I suppose I'm in a minority with that thought! Anyway, although it is an American tradition, I will welcome any children who come trick or treating tonight with my lovely pumpkin hanging on my front door! (Quite what they'll make of it, I'm not sure!) . Tonya corrected my last post, in that the paper cutting wasn't meant to provide templates for the block, but was just a way of learning how to think in strips. The blocks are all free pieced. Thanks for that, Tonya - just shows how patient I am, that I can't even manage to read the instructions properly!

The writing at the bottom of the hanginging doesn't stand out too well, but at least it throws the emphasis onto the pumpkin!

My friend Jane has lent me a fascinating book called 'Stars by Magic' by Nancy Johnson-Srebro. It shows how to make lone star blocks without cutting triangles or dealing with the dreaded Y seam. Of course, I had to have a go and instead of starting with the easiest block (block 1, would you belive?) I started on block9. Here are the pieces I cut for this block.

All squares and rectangles, but quite a few of each, as you'll agree.

The block is very impressive, and the instructions are very clear, but beware - even on Halloween, magic doesn't come into it! Accuracy comes into it, and as you'll see, if you look closely at the block, I had to do a bit of fudging to get the diamonds to fit together, and I think more fudging will be necessary if I want all my yellow diamonds to have points!

One downside for this method is the left overs, which are not insignificant. (They aren't really fuzzy like this, I think they jumped when I clicked the camera.)

Nancy helpfully says you can 'discard the cut off triangles or save for another project'. Discard the triangles! Who is this woman that she can cheerfully drop large pieces of fabric into the bin? I've got into the habit of saving crumbs to make Chaos Crumb blocks, so the idea of dropping a triangle of fabric which is half of a 6 inch square into the bin, isn't one which appeals!

However, these are minor criticisms. The book is great and has clear instructions for 30 different star blocks in up to 10 sizes, and certainly cuts out the tricky Y seams. Now I have to decide what I'm going to do with a 12" lone star block. Perhaps I'll put it in my UFO box for now...........

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


As usual, blogging has distracted me from my current projects and encouraged me to try something new. Tonya, it's all your fault! I was very impressed at her 'Blooming Horrors' wall hanging- how clever! But I was motivated to try her strip pieced jack o'lanterns, which are great fun.
As usual, I decided to do it the hard way. Her instructions are to use paper templates, and I decided not to 'waste' time on those. Also, her pumpkins had straight sides, and I wanted mine to look more rounded, so added more half square triangles and different lengthed strips. The eyes are a bit strange (I couldn't think how to do them at first, so made two half square triangles, which is why they're so big!) but on the whole I'm very pleased with it. Once it's quilted, I'll hang it on the front door on the 31st. .

Sunday, 21 October 2007


I was tagged by Karol-Ann, so here goes. (I have changed things slightly - hope that's OK.)

4 jobs I have had

working as a Sturday girl in a cake shop

packing lollies at Trebor factory

nursing auxilliary

Camp America counsellor (all before I started teaching!)

4 films I could watch over and over

The Graduate

Groundhog Day

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Sixth Sense (not very sophisticated taste, I'm afraid)

4 places I have lived

Chesterfield, Derbyshire



Derby (bit of a Midlander, really)

4 favourite foods




fresh bread (don't have a sweet tooth)

4 favourite colors

lime green (especially in quilts!)
anything bright (can't do pastels)

4 places I would like to visit

Shanghai (just fancy it)

Sydney (always wanted to go down under)

Hong Kong (I hear it's a very vibrant place with great shopping)

Paduca (don't need to explain this one!)

4 people I'd like to meet

Germaine Greer (so clever)

Tracey Emin (seems like good fun)

Ewan MacGregor (dishy)

Camilla Parker Bowles (she always keeps her own counsel, and I bet she's got lots to tell)

I'm not going to tag anyone else as I've changed the categories a bit. Got to go and peel some vegetables for Sunday lunch now. Hopefully will squeeze a bit of quilting time in after the washing up.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Hey, Mister Postman

Why was it that as soon as I had ordered a CD and a book from Amazon and had won a prize on Karol-Ann's blog the postmen went on strike? I could just about manage without the book and prize, but the CD was the music for the bellydance routine I am in for a charity performance in December, and I need all the extra practice I can get!

Then, wasn't it typical that they all arrived on the same day, and some lovely cards from children who had received Project Linus quilts.

Here you can see the lovely chilli key-ring from Karol-Ann (the sparkliness of the beads hasn't come out well, but it almost looks real in the photo! Thanks to her also for the chilli fabric. I love novelty fabrics and will stroke it for a bit, then add it to my collection. I was inspired to buy the book by a comment from Joyce. We have both been trying some ideas Tonya gives on her blog (she calls her blog Lazy Gal Tonya, which is a laugh if you look at her work) and Joyce recommended the book. I've seen some quilts by Freddy Moran before, and love the bright colours and relaxed piecing, so thought I'd give it a go. More of that later, no doubt!
I don't get too much feedback from the Linus quilts I deliver, but am always touched by the letters and cards which make it.
I have finally finished my Mile a Minute, but due to an accidental error by Patti, who set us all off in the first place by showing her excellent tutorial, the name has to be changed to Crumb Chaos blocks. Have a look at Patti's blog for a full explanation. Unfortunately, it was too late to change this quilt's name, but I will note this for the future.

Since it is to be a sofa quilt, I wanted to quilt it well to strengthen it, so decided to use Jane's idea of the cinnamon roll quilting motif, from Kim Diehl's book 'Simple Blessings'. I don't actually know what a cinnamon roll is, so I have re-named it the Swiss roll motif, and take comfort from the fact that good, homemade Swiss rolls are often a bit lopsided and cracked, and match my quilting motifs perfectly!
I think they look good on this scrappy quilt and I'm sure all the bottoms which sit on the quilt will be appreciative too.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007


Last weekend our local patchwork group held an exhibition. We have had them before, but either on a small scale, or as part of another event. This time we decided to go it alone. As anyone who has ever organised anything will agree, it's a lot of work. Apart from the extra planning meetings, there's the booking of halls and quilt stands, publicity, delivering of flyers and posters, baking of cakes, writing of labels and lists, collection of quilts and sales table items, not to mention the sewing on of sleeves (or pinning on in my case!) and labelling of sales goods. And that's all before the day!

Needless to say, all this planning paid dividends and all went smoothly during the show. Here are some photos of the event.

Sometimes it was quiet, and sometimes busy. Some people came to natter (fine by me) and some to admire the quilts.

I hope this lady isn't touching that quilt - I'll have to notify the Quilt Police if I decide she is!

Some came to spend their money at the sales table and others to eat the excellent home-made cakes. (Amazingly my banana, walnut and chocolate chip cake was eaten up on the first day! I usually have to take my cakes home and eat them myself.)

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the whole event, my day was made when a lady came with an old quilt she had bought 50 years ago, to ask for some advice. It was badly worn, and she wanted to know if it was worth repairing. Although we are not experts on old quilts, we felt that it was not. She wanted to continue using it, and even if worn areas had been replaced or strengthened, it would never have been suitable to use again as a bed quilt. If you click on the picture of the quilt, you can see for yourself how badly worn it is. I think she was impressed at how thrilled we were to see her quilt, so has loaned it to us so we can see what we can find out about it.
As you can see, it is a medallion quilt, with a cross motif in a central square of floral fabric. The glazed chintz fabric of the cross has almost completely disintigrated as have other fabrics. It is quite a utilitarian quilt, and some of the selvedges are visible in the blocks.
We thought it was probably mid-Victorian, although it had probably been reworked at some time (maybe before the present owner bought it, in the 1950s) as it had a newish green sateen backing, and some triangles have been appliqued on (see the multi-coloured floral at the bottom of the photo on the left). If anyone out there has any information or opinions about this quilt, all will be gratefully recieved.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Young quilters

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a teacher at a local school, who wanted to make a quilt for Project Linus with her children during their Art Week. She and her assistant came round to see me, and discussed their ideas. They wanted to do a Noah's Ark theme, with different animals appliqued onto idividual blocks, but weren't sure whether this was possible with Year 5 and 6 (9 and 10 year old) children. I was able to introduce them to the wonders of Heat'n'Bond, and after a rummage in my donated fabric collection, they went away very happy.

On Wednesday, DD and I went over to the school to help out. The children in this group were Year 5s, a mixture of boys and girls.

First they chose their designs, and drew them onto Heat'n'Bond.
Here you can see an octopus, a giraffe and half a butterfly ready to trace. (Unfortunately, due to concerns about abuse, I am not able to take photos including children's faces. Never mind, it's good to see youngsters with needles in their hands, even if we can't see the expressions of concentration on their faces!)
Here are the parts of the butterfly ready to cut out and be ironed onto the background fabric.Lots of effort as everyone (including me!) tries to remember how to do blanket stitch.

It's not as easy as it looks to pull the needles through Heat'n'Bond, even using both hands.
Here's an accident waiting to happen - it was inevitable that someone would sew the block to their trousers, although strangely enough, it was neither of these two boys!

Here are the blocks which the Year 6 group had already worked on, ready to finish the next day. Obviously there will be two of each animal and just one ark. I'll look forward to receiving the finished quilt, and will post pictures when it's ready.