Friday, 30 September 2011

I have been sewing - honest

I have realised that it is ages since I last posted but work has been really busy and also I was fiddling around with the Christmas quilt and did not have anything really to show you.

But now I do.  The main parts of the first border are finally sewn
I was slightly disappointed by the look of it I msut say - it looked really dull but then a revlation occurred
Look at the difference the small turquoise dots and the white narcissi make - it really does come alive.
I am sewing all the dots on by hand - frankly it is quicker than trying to do them neatly on the machine and they should not take more than an evening to do. The narcissi will be machine appliqued.  I have been having problems using the monofilament thread with The Beast so it has all been sewn in a sage coloured Bottom Line thread which does not show very much at all.

I have also done a bit of work on the centre of this quilt and will try and post a photo over the weekend. It is becoming quite large already and finding somewhere to hang it in this house is not an easy thing - I will have to get my portable quilt stand out and take a photo.

Happy quilting!

Friday, 16 September 2011

A daft exercise

Last week when I was teaching my Thursday group one of the students wanted to do a quilt using the Raising Star pattern by Judy Martin.  She had half metres of fabric and we duly cut all the strips.
The pattern is basicly a star within a star
Sorry about my crude drawing.  The point of the block was to use five different fabrics with no white tone on tone.  While I was helping her cut it, we both noticed that she would have a lot of extra fabric over - I said that that was the reason every quilter I knew had a stash BUT it got me thinking.

I have a mass of fat quarters which I am always keen to use up but I wanted to use ALL of the fat quarter up - or at least have so little over that I could chuck the remainder without feeling guilty (I know some of you keep every last scrap but for me life is too short!).

So I decided to redraft the block and see how many blocks I could get out of a fat quarter.
This was my cutting plan for an 8" finished block. Knowing that some of my fat quarters have come from the States over the years I worked on a 19" x 18" fat quarter size.  (It is very confusing when over here in Europe our fat quarters are on average 1 1/2" longer and measure about 20" wide x 19 1/2" deep.

First cut was three strips of 3".

Then cut into 3" squares and finally cut diagonally to produce 32 half square triangles.

The next strip was of 2 1/2" squares for the outer corners and the centre square.
The next strip was 1 1/2" for the inner corner pieces

And the final two strips were cut 2" for the inner half square triangles.

I find that when I am chain piecing a lot of triangles, I am quite happy if they are a bit oversized as I like to square up each one individually. That way all the elements are the same and you don't have to waste so much time squaring up the blocks at the end.

So it was all cut out and then I started to lay it out on a piece of uncut fabric to get an idea of what it would look like.  Well imagine my surprise when I could get four blocks instead of two.

I know that my placement of the patches is not perfect but you get the drift. Actually I thought this was quite good for a first attempt.

But the original block required 5 different fabrics so I am not thinking that if I cut all five together in the same way I will be able to make 10 blocks (referring back to my sketch at the top)
1 fabric for the centre square
1 fabric for the inner star points
1 fabric for the star indents and corner patches
1 fabric for the outer star points
1 fabric for the outer indents and corner patches.

Oh dear I feel another quilt coming on - don't have time to actually do the sewing of it at the moment but  a really good mental exercise and worth pursuing in due course I think.  You have no idea how many tries I had to work out the cutting plan - up to 1am on two nights and again at 7am when I realised I was doing it all wrong!!!!

The initial object was to see if I could get 2 complete 12" blocks out of a fat quarter - I can tell you now the answer is no you can't but and 8" block can be quite delicate and you only need about 49 blocks for a lap quilt and that would reduce the stash nicely.

And here are the bits you are left with
and if you are using American fat quarters you won't even have the long strip at the bottom to throw away.

Happy quilting!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

More fabric

I have not had any sewing time this week so I thought I would just show you a collection of fabrics that I purchase when I was up in Norwich - do I need more fabric - NO but this was so lovely and different to anything I have got that I just had to have it.
All very Japanese. It is all washed and ironed and neatly stored in a box. I don't have a pattern in mind yet but the colours are all very muted so will need to be used all together I think.

I am still struggling with all the bunches of grapes and hope to have time tomorrow when I am meeting one of my groups to glue some more together.

Happy quilting.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Twelve by 12

At the Festival of Quilts there was an inspirational exhibition by Twelve by Twelve - this is an internet group of art quilters who challenge each other to make 12" square quilts every two months on a theme that is chosen by one of the members.  They have also produced a marvellous book.
Like many other people, I am sure, I tend to buy quilt books and treat them a bit like cookery books - I dive it and out when I need inspiration but on this occasion I have read this one from cover to cover.  What I find so fascinating is the different interpretations of the challenge themes. Personally, I am not a fan of themes, partly I think because I find it so difficult to find the inspiration. 

One of the groups I belong to has a Christmas challenge this year on the theme of "Cool Britannia" - I have been scratching my mind and so far have come up with a big fat zero. The challenge is only for a 5" square in a frame but that doesn't make it any easier! I don't have a problem with any sewing challenge (although I admit it may not be marvellous but I will give anything a go) but conceptual themes absolutely floor me. 

This is also causing me great concern as the people at Committed to Cloth started to mutter about concepts when I saw them at the Festival - this was in order to produce the "cloth" that I will be dyeing, printing etc.  HELP! I did tell them that I had never done any dyeing but I kind of got the idea that they thought I could not be that naive!!

Again the Quilters' Guild have a challenge for the Festival nest year "Britain - and what it means to you". That theme is so wide and you can do anything but the question is - do I really want to?

So I am sitting here in a blue funk about the Christmas challenge - sadly it is always a surprise so I won't be able to share my progress on this one - ot at least not until the big reveal (some of the members read this I think!).  I will let you know in December how I get on.

Off to continue with the Beth Ferrier applique - told you, I prefer the actual sewing!