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!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Summer sewing

I have been doing some sewing lately (I'm addicted - how could I stop?) even though the weather has been very hot.  I keep the window to my sewing room open, and progressively close the curtains as the sun works its way round that side of the house.  Doesn't exactly keep me cool, but tolerable.  I  have a large pile of Linus tops waiting to be layered and quilted (32 of them to date!) and I am aiming to quilt one a week.  this sounds very impressive, but since they are nearly all lap quilt size, and the quilting needs to hold the layers together rather than win prizes, it's very doable. 
here is a quilted top made from strips which Muriel gave me.  I added the pale blue strips to unify it, and I'm pleased with the result.  I just quilted it in wavy lines across the strips.  The binding is all cut ready for a willing volunteer to complete the quilt.

here is another one, made from Mile a Minute blocks made into stars.  I think this looks really good.  there is stipple quilting with stars in the white spaces. 

Oh dear.  This one jumped while I was snapping it.  It was a panel of 8 Impressionist scenes, and I used the strips from the edge of the designs to make the Dresden plate for the centre.  The binding will be red, and it will be good to see this one go out.  Muriel again generously donated the fabric, and it's been waiting to be completed for a while. 
I know that's only 3 tops, but I did another one which Paula took away to complete. So then I felt able to get on with Rhiannon's Dear Jane.  

This arrangement uses 64 blocks, leaving me with two left over!  One is a basket, which looked a bit odd on point, and the other was made from fabric which was too purply to play nicely with the other blocks.  They will go into my orphan bag and come in another time.  I'm planning to whack a couple of borders on it, and let the Dear Jane blocks shine.