Friday, 27 February 2009

Congratulations, Tonya!

I regularly buy the American magazine 'Quiltmaker' as I find it has lots of ideas for quilts in it, but imagine my surprise to find in the current edition (Mar/Apr 09) a quilt inspired by Tonya's improvised piecing techniques and called Wonky Town! It credits Tonya (quite right too!) and gives the link to her blog and tutorial. Congratulations, Tonya, on getting into an international magazine!

Here is the quilt made by Brenda Groelz - doesn't the lime green add a certain pizzazz to the quilt? If you haven't yet taken the plunge on free piecing, this article may be just the encouragement you need, as it includes tips on putting the blocks together, and a sort-of suggested arrangement. And, at the risk of being accused of taking commission from the magazine, there is also a pattern for jelly rolls and a very clever method for making use of signatures in a quilt in the same edition. If you live in the UK and haven't seen it on sale, ask your local newsagent to get you a copy from Comag - all newsagents can do this. Good luck!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Free jelly roll pattern

As a Christmas thankyou, Rocheberie Quilters in Rugby gave all their members the gift of a jelly roll! What a fabulous present! I was delighted to have such a great gift, and looked forward to using it. I know there are plenty of books with patterns for jelly rolls, but, as a confirmed cheapskate, I decided to find a free pattern on the web. Maybe they are out there, but I couldn't find one. So, I have designed one of my own which I freely make available to all!

The jelly roll only had 20 strips, but will make a very satisfactory lap quilt (if you like houses!). Please note, the quilt will not be leaning in this alarming manner - it must be the fact that I have one leg shorter than the other!
There are in fact two basic designs, Big House and Small House.

This is Big House. It finishes at 12"x10". You will need a whole strip for the background (well, 40") so I advise you to make these houses first. Cut background fabric 12 1/2", 2 1/2" x 4, 41/2" x 2 and 8 1/2". Cut the roof 12 1/2" (I suggest a dark roof for a light house, and a light roof for a dark house). Cut a door at 4 1/2", and windows 2 1/2" x 2 and 4 1/2". I used some light blue fabric from my stash for 'sky' and sashing. The sky pieces were 2 1/2" squares sewn across the corners, and the sashing was 1 1/2" wide. If you wanted to make two big windows on the house, you only need 38" of background, which probably leaves you enough fabric to cut a door for another house.

The small house finishes at 10"x10" and needs 33 1/2" of background, which leaves fabric for a roof for another house. Cut the background 10 1/2", 2 1/2" x 4 and 4 1/2" x 3. Door is 4 1/2" and windows 2 1/2" x 3. Roof is 10 1/2" and make the sky corners as before.

If you like a big upstairs window, you only need 31 1/2" of background, which could leave you enough for a roof for a Big House.

You can vary the windows and make the door on the left or right to make several variations. Since a jelly roll usually has 40 strips and my gift one had 20, you could make twice as many houses with your fabric! The quilt top (without borders) would measure 45"x 65", which will make a very decent single quilt when bordered. Let me know if you like my ideas - and they're FREE!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

What's in a name?

Tonya asked if people who had taken part in her on-line challenges would make their name and send it to her. I have done a couple of her challenges and love making letters, so promised to make mine for her. But names are very personal things. Love them or hate them, they're part of your identity and not to be considered lightly. I spent a while thinking about the colours I need, to show my style and personality - alright, I knew lime green had to be in there somewhere, but where? I had recently been to see my friend Ruth, who had bought some lime green fabric to border a Linus quilt, and found herself with some left over. Since she knew she would never use it herself, she kindly gave it to me. It was just the inspiration I needed. Lime green background for my name was perfect!
The letters are all bright colours which I love to use, some left over from recent projects and a purple piece with writing on it. The letters are lower case - that's how you write a name right? with a capital at the start. Now I'll get it in an envelope and send it to Tonya. Hope she likes it!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Sshh! Don't tell!

It's Valentine's Day tomorrow, so here is a sneak preview of the Valentine I'm giving to DH. He rarely looks at my blog, so I'm quite safe!

It's made from a vintage Valentine image I downloaded from Google Images and printed onto fabric, with various embellishments. I sewed it all onto a piece of buckram (much cheaer than pelmet Vilene or Timtex, but just as stiff) and embellished it with lace and ribbon. The two doves (you can just see them on either side of the figure) were actually table confetti I picked off the table at a wedding. I poked a couple of holes in them with a needle, and treated them as sequins! When I was happy with the front, I used spray glue (505) to fix the back onto it, before zigzagging all round. Of course, I've written a message on the back, but I'll leave that to your imagination!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

More UFOs

I think nearly every quilter in the world's New Year Resolution was to finish some of her UFOs, and I was no exception! After my success with the Dresden plate, I kept digging into my UFO box, to see what was there.
The first one which came to hand was this Happy Houses quilt I had made in 2007, following initial inspiration from Tonya about making letters.

The house block is really easy, as it's only got a door and a roof, but it was fun selecting the people and animals (and one alien!) to stand in the doorways. It also gave me a chance to use up lots of bright fabrics and bargain pieces which had been lurking in my stash. I just need to finish slip-stitching the binding on this one and it's done.
Next UFO to surface was this sample piece I made for a Mile a Minute workshop, to show how the blocks looked with sashing.

I have made some more MAM blocks, and used an appliqued yellow heart from the Linus orphans box for the centre, and some nice blocks which Loulee sent me which look perfect in the corners.

And finally, some blocks I made for a 12 Days of Christmas quilt which was a pattern in Quiltmaker in 2004. They are too good to waste, but I'd be kidding myself if I thought I'd ever finish the whole quilt. In any event, I have used up nearly all of the beige fabric I've used for the background, which would make it look odd. How about this for a plan? I'll make the two remaining bird blocks (swan-a-swimming and goose-a-laying) and the remaining beige fabric and use the birds to put in the corners. The hens will easily go into a Linus quilt, and I can make some stars or some other blocks to fill in the gaps! In case, of course, you have a better idea........

Friday, 6 February 2009

Dresden plate (and snow)

Since I finished my Seductive Curves quilt, I've felt in the need of some sewing that doesn't need a lot of brain power. (No rude comments, please!) I decided to get some of my UFOs finished and have started with the Dresden plate top I made recently.

Since it's only 40" square, it layered up and quilted really quickly. I didn't do much quilting on the 'plates', just round the centres to hold them down and then some echo quilting round the edges to emphasise the pattern. The borders were quilted with my favourite meander with hearts, and I put a little pink heart in the centre of each pink square.

Not quite my usual style, but very suitable for the colour scheme!

I couldn't believe it when I got up this morning to find more snow! We had a few inches on Tuesday, which resulted in a 'working from home' day for me. Wednesdays I don't work, so I was up ready for work on Thursday, to find about 6" of snow had fallen overnight. All my schools were closed, and I hadn't got any more work with me, so I had a snow day! I was planning to do some food shopping etc. today, but will wait till it stops snowing at least. This is the view from my front door.

(The thing on the right hand side which looks a bit like a cow's ear, is in fact a leaf on my bay tree!) And this is the view out of my bedroom window, over next door's garden and the fields.

For Middle England, this is serious snow! If you want to look at some decent photos of the snow (definitely no cow's ears etc) then Jane has some really lovely ones on her blog. Meanwhile, since I'm warm and snug, both DD and DS are safe and well, DH has a large heavy car and lots of common sense and I don't have any travel plans till Monday, I'm enjoying the view!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Thank you, Nik!

After lots of steady sewing, I managed to get the Seductive Curves quilt finished for DD to take back with her to Brighton yesterday. Here are DD and DH holding it up in her living room. You can't see the whole thing, but the quilting shows up quite well.

I have my friend, Nik, to thank for that. Recently Nik made a fabulous black and pink quilt, which was beautifully machine quilted in variegated pink thread. I asked her how she managed with all the stopping and starting required, and she said she had a locking stitch on her machine which she had used. I have tried that myself, but often found a little (or large!) thread nest on the back of the quilt. 'Oh, yes,' said Nik, 'I do too. But what's a little thread nest between friends? I'm not entering a competition, and it makes life so much easier.' We could all do with a friend like Nik, I think! So since I had decided to emphasise the curving shapes with the quilting, I decided to take Nik's advice and use my locking stitch. To eliminate the need to turn the quilt, I quilted all the horizontal lines first, and then turned the whole thing and quilted the vertical lines. Lots of stopping and starting was necessary, but it was much more straightforward than going round every shape. Here is the back, and you can see the thread nests. Some are small and some much bigger, but hey, I don't care!

And to finish off with, some pictures of cold, miserable Brighton, and its famous pier. It was just starting to snow, and the wind was cutting through us like a knife.

Here are DD and DH strolling along the pier (they're the second group of people, not the ones with the blue hat and stick!) before we all had a nice hot cup of tea in a little cafe and then went home! I'm glad I manged to meet my deadline, as I've a feeling DD has been rather grateful for its warming properties!