Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Nearly there

It's New Year's Eve and the festivities are nearly over.  I love this time of year, but can't say I'll be sorry when normal service is resumed!  I haven't had much chance to sew, but have managed to snatch a little time at the machine.

My Celtic Solstice is finished!  I've quilted it with spirals, and sewn the binding down.  Now it's complete, I have found the block which jumped out of place before I sewed it.  Typical.

Here it is, at the bottom left of the circle.  I know people who would unpick and correct, but I'm not one of them!  It stays!  I love the quilt and really enjoyed making it.  Looking forward to the Grand Illusion reveal.

I also layered and finished this Linus quilt.  It's a double nine-patch, and the blocks were made by a group of friends.  It's gone together well.
Now I need to make a baby quilt for a friend of DD.  I decided to make nine-patch blocks from a tutorial on funwithbarbandmary.  You start with squares, instead of strips, and they go together really quickly.  (I started with 7.5" squares, so they have knitted up big!)

There are only six blocks here, but as you can see, you get a positive and negative block from each two squares.  Neat. 
Have a great time tonight, and I'll see you in 2015!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Two finishes

Things have been busy round here with Christmas things (lunches, days out, shopping etc) but I've managed to keep up with my Grand Illusion blocks.  

I made them using the flip and stitch method, and no, I didn't make any bonus triangles, I just cut off the excess and threw it in the bin!  Sometimes, enough is enough!  I'm glad I only aimed for half Bonnie's number, as it took several sessions to make even that number.
And I went to the Christmas celebration at one of my groups, Talking Textiles, and this is what we made. 

Isn't he cute?  But wait.  There's more.

What about that!  Bunty and Jenny showed us how to use conductive thread (who knew that even existed!), switches and stuff to make his nose light up.  If you're interested in making your own, there is a free tutorial on and you can buy the items you need from them too.  Great fun!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Another challenge

I have finished my quilt using the 'Dear Jane' blocks, and since it's for Rhiannon, have called it 'Dear Rhiannon'.  DS will take it down to hers on Sunday.  Hope she likes it.

So what am I doing now?  Can't let the sewing machine remain idle!  Apart from the blue string blocks and of course my Bonnie Hunter Grand Illusion, I needed to get on with the Linus Winter Challenge.  This was just an idea of mine to get some quilts which were gender neutral.  I bought some fabric with dogs on it, and cut into half yard pieces.  I had had wadding cot packs donated by the Warm Company, so gave out a piece of fabric plus the wadding and challenged people to make a quilt.  The results will be judged in January and a prize of a layer cake and book awarded.  

Here is the fabric (why is it upside down?) and here is my progress so far.

I cut the dog fabric into 4.5" squares then had a rummage in the orphans bags and found all the half square triangles etc to fill in the spaces.  A couple of borders and it'll be done.  Easy!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Grand illusion part one - completed!

Well, although I've completed what I need to make, I've only aimed for half the number of blocks Bonnie stipulates.  I'll see if I want to make more later.

Here are my 50 broken dishes blocks and 40 half square triangles.  I made the HSTs in the 'sew either side of the line' method, as my pieces of fabric were suitably sized.  What's next, Bonnie?

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Waiting for thread

I can't waste my time while I'm waiting for the postman to bring me some thread to complete my 'Dear Jane' quilt, so I've started a new project!  Well, it seemed ok, as i've nearly finished one, so the UFO pile will stay the same.  The advantage of this one, is that  it's a Bonnie Hunter, using lots of blue fabric and particularly strings which might reduce the Linus blue bin slightly.  (Don't hold your breath, though. Scrap bins never seem to get emptier, even for a keen scrap quilter like me!) 

These blocks are looking great, and although they look complex, they are just a central nine patch turned on point with string triangle corners, then flying geese for the final frame!  In the top right hand block can you see the fabric with rows of numbers?  It's part of a 2005 Debbie Mumm fabric calendar which was donated to Linus.  I cut the pictures off to save for another time, then sliced the dates up and put in the neutrals box.  Perfect!  
And speaking of Bonnie hunter, I hope everyone has checked out the first instalment of her new Grand Illusion mystery quilt!  If you have never done one of Bonnie's mysteries before, I can heartily recommend them.  They are great fun, and always turn out to be stunning.  One piece of advice is that Bonnie's quilts are always huge, so I always start off making half the number of blocks she suggests, or even a quarter.  You can always add more blocks later, and you can appreciate that to make 140 half square triangles rather than 280 is a lot more appealing!  I have started by cutting up 'kits' for us to sew up at the next Linus sewing session next week. 

Here are the kits and my Blue Peter ready to go. Perhaps I'll have some time later to start cutting for myself!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Oh no!

I have layered and tacked my 'Dear Jane' quilt and decided how to quilt it.  If time had been on my side I would have quilted each block individually ( or should that read might have quilted each block individually! ) but as things are, I have used an all over design.  Jane suggested Baptist Fans, which would have been ideal, but all the marking didn't appeal, so it was spirals instead.

I'm very pleased at how the lovely King Tut variegated thread doesn't overpower the lighter blocks, and no marking needed!  But then, disaster struck. 

Still the bottom corner to quilt, an empty bobbin, and only this paltry amount of thread left!  Luckily 'New Threads' mail order service is speedy and well priced.  I'm sure more thread will be here in a couple of days and I can still meet my deadline!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Dear Jane

I have been working hard on my Dear Jane blocks, as I have agreed to give them to DS's friend as a housewarming present on 6th December, so no time pressures there!  I had already bigged them up by putting them on point and putting plain blue squares between them, which looked pretty good.  But not big enough for a vaguely credible bed quilt.  Next was a flying geese border.  It adds another 8" all round, so what's not to like? 

I have to admit that I had help from Jane and Liz here, so thank you both!  Still not big enough, but I need a plain border, if I'm to get it layered and quilted in time.  

What better than this fabulous Barbara Brackman fabric for the final border? A perfect solution!  A bit of careful cutting and it'll be a top!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


I was looking at the latest copy of 'Quiltmaker' - one of my all time favourite magazines - when my eye strayed to the Basic Lessons page.  I'm not foolish enough to think there would be nothing there forme to learn, when I came to the bit about Backing and Basting.  

In case you can't read it, it says 'Make the quilt backing 4-8" larger than the top.'  This is pretty standard information for layering up.  But really - four to eight inches!  That's a lot of excess!  The received wisdom is that the fabric will pull up when it's quilted.  Well, yes, that's true, but surely the back and the top will pull up roughly the same amount? 

I'm not really suggesting you cut the backing the same size as the top (as I have foolishly done here!)

Just leave an inch or so, to prevent having to add to the backing if you've not centred the top quite right.  Any thoughts?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Better than I expected

I have finished my Piecemakers Challenge blocks, and instead of making four mini quilts, have made one Linus quilt!  Despite my earlier reservations about having chosen pastels for the fabrics, now it's a top, I think it's turned out better than I expected!  In fact, it's OK.

It's another murky day here, so it doesn't show up too well, but once it's quilted it will look fine.  However, that's my foray into pastels over for a while, and the next quilt on my list is one made from string blocks which Bettymade and gave to me. 

That's a bit more like it!  And what shall I use as a border?

Yes, that's perfect!

Monday, 27 October 2014


This year my local quilting group Piecemakers have challenged their members to make four little 12.5" quilts on the themes of lines, squares, triangles and circles.  While I'm always up fora challenge (and group activity) I wasn't sure about the mini quilt idea.  Personally, I don't want to make things which are purely decorative. (Yes, I know it's all about the journey, but I want a journey and a destinnation!). So I decided to make two of each block, then add another block and make it up as a Linus quilt.  And asan extra challenge for myself, to stick to pastel colours.

So, here is the central section in progress.  I found a ballerina fabric for the extra block.

Here is the lines block - string piecing.

Here are the squares - Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trip.

Triangles -self evident.

And circles - will be in the centres of the flowers! 
Got to get it finished by the middle of November.  Piece of cake! 

Monday, 20 October 2014


We're having a chill break for a little warmth and downtime, in sunny Tenerife.  We've never been here before, but are very impressed.  We normally look for somewhere which has excursion possibilities (historical sites being a favourite) and had always dismissed The Canaries as being just a resort.  Well, our view hasn't changed but our current needs have.  After a rather stressful period, we were in need of a rest and a bit of looking after, which we have certainly found!  That's not today I haven't been sewing (can a leopard change its spots?!) but something undemanding.

And that something is hexagons!   I've also discovered a great way of cutting the fabric.  Usually you end up with fabric which looks like large mice have been chewing at it - all lacey!  This method is much quicker.  I just cut 2.5" strips and then subcutaneous them into squares.  The papers it's beautifully on there.  I suppose you could snip the corners off if you were a perfectionist, but I didn't bother.

And here is the progress so far.  Looks a bit strange, but the red lozenge will be the central motif, surrounded by other lozenges and rosettes.  So far so good!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Day out

Today Paula and I went over to 'Hannah's Room' in Coalville.  It only took us about 20 minutes and was easy to find on the main street.  The shop is owned by Roxana, who is enthusiastic and inspirational.  there is a good range of fabrics, and the prices are very reasonable - a bonus in these days of recession!  We always like to support local quilt shops, but our main reason for today's visit was that Roxana had organised a Project Linus sewing day! 
Paula and I were particularly keen to layer up a few tops ready for quilting, and Roxana was so concerned to see us tacking the layers together that she gave us a can of 505 spray and gave us a lesson on how to glue baste quilts.  Despite my past reservations, I have to admit, I'm converted!  We layered 5 quilts in the morning (and had plenty of chatting and biscuit-eating time) which was an excellent result! 

Add to that Roxana's offer to quilt 4 of the quilts and it was a result!
At home, I've been quilting something of my own.  This fat quarter quilt is now ready to bind.  I  quilted it in the ditch and then did some free motion circle and squiggle motifs in the centre of each block. 

Here's a close up.

The circle fits nicely in the centre square and the squiggles in the first frame.

It's a good way of holding the layers together!  Now to cut some binding.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Big Textile Show

As Project Linus UK rep, I was thrilled to be invited back to The Big Textile Show to have a stand.  This year it was at a new venue, Leicester Grammar School which was much bigger and more spacious (as well as being very swish!  That's private education for you!). 
Maria and I went on Saturday, and had enough space for a display and a demonstration table.  Julie and Emily were able to help too.  Many thanks for that.  It looks pretty quiet here, but 100 people took Linus leaflets (50 people did last year) so we were actually very busy, which was lovely.

Here you can see how spacious it was.  We were right near the entrance, so there were occasional lulls when people were having lunch etc. and didn't pass by.

Here's a view in the hall where most of the traders were.  The man on the right had lots of gorgeous leathers.  The smell was fabulous! 

Second hand craft books and lots of activity round a stall selling fabric stamps.

A lot was going on upstairs, including Rosie with her Morsbag team.  And this is what I bought.

The stand next to us was for the charity Azafady which teaches women in Madagascar to embroider, and then sells their work.  This enables them to have a skill and income of their own, to better their families.  I fell in love with this embroidery, and intend to frame it - after all, it's a work of art.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

I can't believe it!

I know I've got plenty of inspiration, but I couldn't resist treating myself to the latest copy of 'Patchwork and Quilting'.  Lots of interesting projects and articles in there, until I turned over a page, to be confronted by this!

I had no idea that this was in the offing, but I'd just like to say thank you very much!  I'm very honoured to be Blog of the Month, and rather gobsmacked! 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Fat quarters

I've continued my investigations into fat quarter quilts, and have made my design using actual fat quarters!  I went down to the Bramble Patch (my local quilt shop) and hoped to buy a fat quarter pack.  Unfortunately, while they had lots of fat eighth packs, and other goodies, no fat quarter bundles.  So, I had to make my own.  I chose the Moda Chantilly range and picked 8 fat quarters which I thought made a nice set.  Then I started cutting and sewing, and this is the result!
A little dark, but you get the idea.  And this is what was left over!

A few 1.5" squares and some 2" strips.  Good, eh? 
I have to confess that there was a little joining of fabric to make the last block, but that's patchwork!  Nine fat quarters would be an insurance policy, but to get a quilt finishing at 48" x 48" from 8 fat quarters, is pretty amazing.

Saturday, 6 September 2014


I love clever, quick quilty ideas, and this one is magic!  First, take two squares,  one light and one dark.  (Mine measured 7.5 inches.)
Then sew, cut (but no strips!!) and hey presto, two nine-patches of 6.5 inches!

As ever, this isn't my idea, and if you want the method, you'll have to look at Barb's blog for the full instructions.  Happy sewing.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Fat quarters

Fat quarters, those delectable little fabric temptations!  We all succumb to their charms at one time or another, and I'm very guilty in that direction!   I decided that the time had come to make another attempt to use up the fabric in my stash, and those fat quarters were first on the list!  I looked at several patterns and books to get some inspiration, but couldn't find what I wanted.  The patterns either seem to have instructions which call for a bunch of fat quarters, but only cut, say, 15" squares from them.  That's no good - I want to use them up, not just create more scraps!  Or they use up the fat quarters, but to complete the pattern you need coordinating yardage for backgrounds and borders.  That's no good either, as I want to use up fabric, not buy more!  So I decided to try and design a pattern for myself.
I started with these simple bordered squares.  They look good, and certainly fit the bill, but they're a bit limited.

So I added another border round each one.  This had the advantage of knitting up big, and looking a bit more interesting.
Then my creative juices got going, and I added cornerstones to each block.  Still good for using up all the fabric, but an even more interesting design.  Each block finishes at nine and a half inches, and you can nearly get four blocks from one fat quarter.  So that means you can add some strips from your scrap boxes to finish the last block - even better!  Now that's what I call 'fat quarter friendly'!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Festival of Quilts

I have had a lovely day today at The Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham!  I went with the lovely Paula, and we had a great time.  It's such a big show that it's impossible to see it all in one day - well, I suppose it would be if you didn't get distracted by the shopping, but we did!  Apart from admiring all the goodies and notions on sale, we spent the bulk of our time in the traditional aisles, and were very impressed with what we saw.  Here are just a Few of the pieces which caught my eye.
The use of colour and the different border fabrics made this one a joy. 

Sampler quilts are a fantastic way to learn lots of techniques, but (sorry!) they can look a bit boring.  This one showcases various techniques and still manages to look interesting.

I was attracted to this quilt because of its Mile a Minute borders, but then, the longer we looked at it, the more we loved it.  It's made from African fabrics, and each ray of the star has diamonds of a certain colour, and then is edged with the same colour.  The quilting is simple to complement the shapes, but with variegated threads which really add something.  Gorgeous.

Split 9-patch with applique in the middle, rather than as a border.  Clever.

This was another quilt which repaid study.  The multi-coloured circles are such fun, and the way the background fabrics are light in the middle and dark round the edge add depth to the design.  And the border fabric!  Anyone else would have said it was busy enough, but the maker decided to add some applique, and quite right too.  This quilt may not be a prize-winner, but it fills my heart with joy!    

This was a winner in the junior section.  It was called something like flowers in the snow.  I love it, and spent a while trying to work out how it was made.  (We failed!)

Then the 3D section.  Or is this wearable art?  The coat looks good, but I'm not sure about the hat!

I've seen cars covered in patchwork, but never a garden seat.  Back view,

and front view.  Amazing.

This quilt was a testament to women.  Hooray for us!

And last but not least, a working grandfather clock!  How on earth did they ship it?!
Overall we loved the show, and were pleased to see such variety.  As usual, we mainly disagreed with the judges choices of winners (two layers of chiffon don't make a quilt, in our opinion) but then, that's normal!