Friday, 21 December 2012

Another UFO bites the dust (well, nearly)

I was looking at my list of UFOs the other day, and while the UFO Challenge has helped me deal with quite a few, there are still some on the list.  My Orca Bay is waiting for a border decision, and a top I made ages ago (ages as in years, not months!) is waiting to be wadded up, plus my Challenge Sampler was still waiting to have the quilting finished.  I pulled my finger out, and not only got the quilting done, but have now attached the borders!
Here it is hanging on my wardrobe.  Everyone else who took this challenge finished their quilt some time ago, but then they didn't choose to make all their blocks smaller and do four of each! 

Here is the back - a gorgeous reproduction pillar print I picked up in a sale.  Ideal!  I'm keen to quilt the borders and finish this quilt, as I want to use it on our bed, but I haven't got any thread the right colour.  I'm not sure I can fit in a trip to the quilt shop this close to Christmas - but then, maybe I can!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Canuk swap

It didn't take me long to make the components for 'Easy Street' this week - more flying geese, this time with turquoise skies - and join them together.  Some clever people have already speculated on possible layouts, but a) I'm a past failure at that and b) it rather spoils the surprise.
So there was time to get my Canuk swap together.  (For those who don't know, Canuk is another word for Canadian.  You learn something every day!)  

I have used a soft green as a border round the central medallion and to bulk out the blocks which were too small.  I also added an extra block to make the length.  I'm satisfied with the result.  It's not anything wonderful (and in a perfect world I would have put the two blocks with burgundy fabric in them on opposite sides, but hey ho!) but with a narrow pink border and then a wider one of the soft green, I think it'll do.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Up to date -then onwards and upwards

Bonnie Hunter was right, 'Easy Street' is not as difficult as the last two mysteries, and the numbers seem a bit more manageable too - so far!  The next part was a shaded four-patch, and this time, instead of the interminable triangles, I decided to use this method.  You cut the black and white fabric into rectangles, not squares and then cut to give two half nine-patches.  I can't remember the measurements, but leave a comment if you would like them.
Here are the completed blocks, and looking very good too.

So, while I waited for the next part, I had to do something, right?  I dug out my Canuk Swap.  this was a swap with some Canadian quilters which didn't really go as planned.  The idea was to make a central block, and then for each participant to make blocks of the same total area, but not the same dimensions.  One of those 'it seemed like a good idea at the time' things, which didn't work out in practice.  here is my central block, with the one set of flying geese blocks which were any use.  

Then I had four each of these blocks,

three each of these,

and two of these.  Really helpful!  After my success with being uo to date with 'Easy Street', I decided
 to make something of these random elements, to deal with yet another PIG!

Bonnie has now posted the next set of instructions, so I'll get on with those before I reveal my solution!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Geese and a PIG

It didn't take long to finish all the flying geese for 'Easy Street', as I'm only making half the number Bonnie suggests.  I used the rulers she suggests, which mean cutting triangles and sewing them together instead of the (more wasteful) method with squares.  I don't know why I practise economy, when I really need to get using my stash!  But, just as a leopard can't change its spots, a scrappy quilter can't bear to waste fabric!  I'm very satisfied with what I've done so far.  Now on to the PIG.
 A friend of mine gave me a PIG (Project In Grocerybag) ie. a partly finished quilt in a carrier bag with all the templates and pieces to finish it!  It was really for Linus, as she said she started it years and years ago, and knew she would never finish it.  I accepted it with thanks (as ever) but when I looked in the bag, I realised that not only was it a bit dark for Project Linus, but also, it was made of Laura Ashley and Sanderson scraps (along with other lovely fabrics) which must surely have held lots of memories for Sue.  So I contacted her and offered to finish it for her if she wanted.  She took a little persuading, but finally admitted that she would love it to be finished, but couldn't ask!

Here it is - nearly finished, but just needing a bit of sewing of hexagons on the edge and a few extra ones inserting on the corners.  I quickly zig-zagged the hexagons on, layered and quilted it in the ditch.  (Not all the ditches, just enough to hold it together!)

And here it is in all its glory!  I put a scrappy binding on it, and it looks gorgeous!  The colour choices show a flair for colour, and I'm sure that Sue will be very pleased at the result.  Is this a case of making a silk quilt out of a PIG's ear?!

Saturday, 8 December 2012


All the four patches are now done and filed away, so now it's on to the flying geese!  Purple flying geese.  So now it's a choice: shall I go with blue-purple,
or red-purple?  The Kaffe Fasset print is so amenable, it goes with either!

I think I'll follow Bonnie's excellent example and go with both!  I've chosen the mid-dark range so it'll have plenty of impact. 

Now to get my rulers out and fiddle with triangles!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Thanks, Bonnie

I've been in the 'quilting doldrums' lately (as could probably be infered from my lack of blogging!)  Not that I haven't been busy, here I am delivering Linus quilts to Rosemary who works with children with life-limiting conditions.  This was a request from a little girl who's three and a half, is frightened of being in her own bed at night and loves 'Hello Kitty'.  Rosemary is hoping that the quilt will encourage her to stay put at night (and so are her parents!)
I've also made quite a few Linus quilts, and here is a granny squares one I'm currently making.  I'm just going to sash it with white and put a blue border.  I think it'll look gorgeous for a baby.  But then, Nik kindly alerted me to the fact that Bonnie Hunter has started her new mystery quilt - Easy Street.  How did I miss that?!

Lucky for me that I have an extensive stash, and a few minutes rummaging produced enough grey fabric and black on white fabric to make a start.

29 four-patches already done, so only 163 to go!  That'll pull me out of the doldrums!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Must try harder

I have been sewing recently but it's all been bits and bobs, Linus stuff and teaching samples.  I've also been teaching rather a lot (well, 4 days this month has seemed a lot to me!) and haven't been blogging either.  So I've decided to try harder (both with quilting and blogging) so here is what I did yesterday.  Liz decided to try and reduce her collection of shirts by making a quilt for Injured Servicemen, and cleverly asked members of Rocheberie Schoolhouse Quilters to help her.  She provided the fabric and pattern, and is expecting completed blocks in return.  Here are mine. 
Easy, right?  Well, not as easy as I thought.  The fabrics are nice soft shirtings, and while Liz warned in the instructions that they might need starching to stabilise, Leap-before-you-look-Lynda just dived straight in, and found out the hard way that starch would have been a good idea!  One thing that Liz didn't mention was that the fabrics weren't all 100% cotton (why should she? wasn't it obvious?) so the first pressing resulted in melted fabric and a messy iron.  Should have thought of that too!  Never mind, at least the blocks are done, and they're such an effective design.  The measurements are 2.5" strips cut into 2.5" squares, then 6.5" strips and 10.5" strips, to make a 10" finished block.  Lovely.

So then I got out a little bag of HSTs which someone at Rocheberie had given to me.

 I joined them into flying geese and then into Dutchman's Puzzle blocks.

  These will be an 8.5" finish and there are enough for five blocks.  That'll make a nice Linus quilt for a baby.  I'll try and get on with it and post some pictures for a change!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Can't believe it!

I haven't posted for a while, as life here has been very hectic.  When we came back from our holiday, we went straight into our drama group's production of Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible', for which I had done the costumes.  Then no sooner had the hired costumes been returned and our own costumes washed and put away, than we were busy with DH's 60th birthday!  Family lunch on Sunday, a stay in London for DH and myself and then a party last Saturday.  We all had a fabulous time, but there wasn't much sewing going on!  The only piece of sewing I did, was ........... wait for it ..........

I saw an article in 'Quilter's Newsletter' by Micky Depre about her wanting some hand work, and Bonnie Hunter suggesting hexagons.  (The mention of Bonnie's name immediately perked my interest!)  Micky played about with some fabrics and has made seven new designs for hexagons, and this, Spike pieced hexies, took my fancy.

Micky simply pieced a strip in the middle of her fabric, and aligned it with marks on the paper.  I'm not working on it furiously, but think it will be a good portable project.  I must say, I never thought I'd be starting a hexagon project, which just goes to show that you should never say never!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


DH and I have just been on holiday to the Holy Land (or Israel, if you're not sure where that is!).  Not being religious, I was a little trepidacious about the trip, but I needn't have worried, as it was fabulous!  We went on an organised tour which visited all the Christian sites plus a lot of historical ones, and since I love history, I was in my element!  I won't bore you with all my snaps, but just tantalise you with some artistic inspiration!  Here is a possible applique idea from the Church of the Beatitudes.
 A quilting motif on the top of a pillar in Caesarea.

 Celtic applique designs plus quilt blocks from a mosaic in Bethlehem.

Islamic motifs of flowers and flowing shapes from Jerusalem (although I think I'll need a magnifying glass to see them properly!)

More quilt blocks from Jerusalem.

And just a little sample of the gorgeous eye candy - all the colours of the rainbow!- in the souk in Jerusalem.  (Can you see the little boy minding the shop?  So cute!)

And finally, just thought you might be amused by this picture of myself bobbing in the Dead Sea.

                                                                            Look, no hands!

Friday, 12 October 2012


People (both quilters and non-quilters) sometimes ask me how I find the time to make so many quilts.  I'm usually at a loss to answer this question, and say something like, I use the time they use for doing other things, like watching the television, playing or watching sport, gardening or even doing housework to do some sewing.  But recently my friend Jane asked me the same question, and I started thinking.

One of my main advantages is the fact that I am able to leave my sewing machine up all the time.  This means I can sew for a few minutes and don't have all the bother of getting things out and putting them away.  But I think the thing which is really time-saving, is having storage which works for you, and being organised.

Most of my fabric is organised by colour, and here is red, pink, yellow and batik in an IKEA basket storage unit.  Sometimes I have too much fabric of one colour for one container, so separate them into lights, mediums and darks.  Blues are like this, but for reasons that will be obvious to those who know my favourite colour, greens are divided into light and lime green in one box, and other greens in the other!  I have a lot of lime green!

But the main time saver is my adoption of Bonnie Hunter's scrap user system.  All my scraps have been cut up into useable sizes.  Here I have 1.5" strips and squares and 2" dark and light strips and squares. 

Here are dark and light 2.5" strips and squares, 3.5" pieces and charm squares.

I even have a container for selvedges and triangles - I just can't bear waste!  When I have finished any project, I spend a few minutes cutting up any scraps into the biggest strips I can and putting them in (or on, if I'm feeling lazy) the relevent container.  Then when I need, say, 2" squares, I don't have to spend time choosing and cutting yardage, just look into the box and see what's ready to go! 

If you don't already sort your scraps (as Jane didn't) and you feel a bit overwhelmed by the bag of scraps you have and at the idea of all that cutting, just remember how to eat an elephant.  A bite at a time!  Buy yourself a couple of plastic food containers from your local hardwear shop and put aside just 10 or 15 minutes to cut some scraps from your bag.  If you do that every day, you'll soon empty thebag, and have made yourself loads of extra quilting time!

Monday, 8 October 2012


If you are of a nervous disposition, I advise you to read no further!  (Don't worry - it's not spiders, it's something MUCH worse!)  Today I had to pop into Rugby on an errand, and while I was there I decided to see if I could buy some red fabric.  Recently I noticed that my red drawer was a bit depleted, so thought I'd see if I could add to it.  I successfully bought a couple of fat quarters and a half metre for a good price, and returned home in a happy mood.  (This is where it gets really shocking!)
I always wash my fabrics (usually in the washing machine with everything else) but since I didn't have any washing to do, I decided to wash them quickly in the sink.  When I put the first piece into the water, this is what I saw!
Just look at the colour of that water!  I've had fabrics bleed a bit of colour before, but never as badly as this!  Thank goodness I washed it before it ended up in a quilt!  Now it's had several rinses and is on the line with its fellows, ready to behave perfectly in the future.  What a cautionary tale!

Monday, 1 October 2012

September UFO Challenge - failed!

I was doing so well with my UFO Challenge quilts - so far, 8 tops out of the cupboard and completed.  But this month I haven't even managed to finish the top!  However, I'm not too despondent, as at the beginning of September, I had this:
 and at the end, I have this.

It's certainly a stunning design!  Now I have to decide on borders.  Bonnie had put a white one with black half square triangles as the border, but I'm not sure I can face that!  Maybe a narrow black border than piano keys in red or blue?  What do you think?

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Too many projects

I'm usually quite happy to have lots of projects on the go - variety being the spice of life - but this time it led to my undoing (or more correctly, my unpicking!)  I had really enjoyed making my version of Bonnie Hunter's Tulip Fields, but felt I wanted to get back to Orca Bay. 
I had originally only made half the components, and now felt I needed just another row of blocks to finish it off.  Orca Bay has string blocks, so I merrily made the required number of red ones and sliced them in half, as per instructions.  But not actaully as per instructions, as I had sliced them horizontally,

as was required for Tulip Fields, not vertically, as was required for Orca Bay!  Naturally I didn't realise my mistake until after I'd cut and trimmed them all, and sewn the triangles onto both sides of most. 

This is how they should look, and they will, after I've had a session with my unpicker!  Happy days!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Seam allowance

The problems I had with Bonnie's Tulip Fields block made me think a bit more about seam allowances (and also to consult the invaluable 'The Quilters Ultimate Visual Guide' for the final verdict). I worked it out bit by bit. For any straight seam, you cut a square which is half an inch bigger than the finished block you need, because each side has a quarter inch seam and two quarters are one half.  So far so good.
For a half square triangle, you still need the quarter inch seam each side, but you have a diagonal seam in the middle as well.  Although that is a quarter inch seam when you sew it, because it's slanting, it takes more fabric, so you need to add three eighths of an inch to accommodate that.  So, the total you have to add to the finished size for cut size is seven eighths (a quarter inch, another quarter inch and three eighths of an inch.)  Still with me?   

So for a quarter square triangle, you need to cut the half square triangle in half.  That adds another diagonal seam, and thus another three eighths of an inch to the previous total. 
That means adding one and a quarter inches to the finished size of the block for the cutting size of quarter square blocks (not one and an eighth which I stupidly stated in my last post!)  All clear now?!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Sorry Bonnie, couldn't wait!

I was admiring all the gorgeous stuff on Bonnie Hunter's site when I came across a wonderful quilt called 'Tulip Fields'.  She was teaching it as a class, and while it may be in her new book (my copy is on order!) I just couldn't resist having a go.
Here is the basic block.  Made fabric square cut in half, a light square and a half square triangle cut in half.  Easy!  Well, it obviously was for Bonie, and the ladies who had the benefit of Bonnie's brainpower and instructions, but I struggled!  I decided to make the made square 5" (to make a 4" finished block. That would make the light square 2"  finished and the tulip petals a 2 7/8" pair of squares. 

Whoops!  what has gone wrong here?  After quite a bit of cutting, sewing, recutting and resewing, I gave up.

But only for a few hours.  I knew I would see Jane from Sew Create It today, and was sure she would be able to work it out.  She's a mathematical whizz (and a whizz in other departments too!) and she quilckly worked out my error.  The half square triangle was the correct size, but not if I was cutting it in half!  I needed to add seam allowance.  Doh!  The half square triangle should be made from 3 1/8 squares, to give the necessary seam allowance.

There we are!  A lovely block, thanks to a little help from a friend!