Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Just a bit of stitching

There’s not much to report this month on the sewing front. The only stitching has been starting this cross stitch house to use as a “New Home” card for someone who moves in a couple of weeks.
Hopefully next month will have a bit more sewing to share.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Ever decreasing circles

At this month’s Leeds MQG meeting, Jenny from Pappersaxsten came to teach us how to sew curves without pins. We had a choice of two patterns – Footloose, a triple Drunkard’s Path, or Sunflower, a standard Drunkard’s Path. I chose the Footloose pattern as it would give me plenty of opportunity to sew curves of different sizes. We were told to bring a small rotary cutter if we had one as it would be easier for cutting curves with the templates and I couldn’t resist bring a few pin, just in case …

After Jenny had demonstrated how to sew curves and in what order to assemble the block pieces, it was time for us to give her no pins method a go. I did try a few pieces without using pins, but I found I was much quicker and the edges lined up much better if I used a single pin to match the centre points of the curve. With the help of a few pins, I was able to get 16 blocks completed and joined with sashing so it could go on its way to someone who needs to make a quilt in a hurry and had asked for any spare blocks in purple and black.

Sewing the curves got easier with practice, but I did find it odd trying to cut curves with a template and rotary cutter. I wasn’t put off entirely and bought Jenny’s templates for the Sunflower block so I can make that pattern at some point.

Jenny’s templates include a generous ½” seam allowance on the edge of the block and a square-up template. This means that there isn’t the pressure to ensure perfectly matching edges and makes it for more likely for me to try other Drunkard’s Paths patterns when I want a change from sewing straight seam blocks.

Friday, 31 August 2018

It's Festival of Quilts time again

It’s August (but not for much longer) and so it must be time for a report about my trip to Festival of Quilts. After last year’s whirlwind one day visit, this year I went back to a two day visit, mainly because I had the chance to meet up with some friends from an online sewing community.
We had been running a little challenge to make quilts for Project Linus using only two colours and neutrals, with the colours having to be complementary on the colour wheel. There was also going to be a competition element to the challenge with the finished quilts being put to a vote.
I had seen a quilt in Lynne Goldsworthy’s book “Quick and Easy Quilts” which had a red balloon appliqued to a neutral log cabin background. By adding a second balloon I was able to meet the two colour requirement, though I knew that this design would be regarded as stretching the rules and wouldn’t do me any favours when it came to the voting. Adding the second balloon meant I could make a larger quilt as these tend to be in short supply for Project Linus.
To avoid any raw edges on the balloons, I used an interfacing technique to enclose the raw edges and then used a blanket stitch on my machine to attach the balloon to the quilt top. The strings were made from a tube of fabric and applied to the quilt top with a straight stitch.
I did echo quilting around the balloons and the strings and then quilted in the ditch for the body of the balloons. The rest of the quilting was just diagonal straight lines. The backing was a cotton lawn from Standfast and Barracks which picked up the neutral theme from the front and went well with the dark binding.
It was lovely to meet up with friends from the forum and to see all the quilts being handed over to Project Linus. As expected, mine was not a winning quilt, but my priority was to make a quilt suitable for an older child and not the competition side of things.
No trip to Festival of Quilts would be complete without a little bit of shopping and I actually managed to come back with some money left in my purse this year.
With visiting for two days, I had time to attend a lecture about geometric design in Islamic art by Eric Broug. I found the way the designs can be created fascinating and I will have to try to make time to try this for some EPP designs.
As usual I had mixed feelings about the quilts and I am thinking now that this down to the competition element. Looking at some of the quilts hanging side by side in the same category, I felt uncomfortable that they were being judged against each other. Even though I have been going to Festival of Quilts for a few years, I found it more difficult to find my way around this year and probably missed quite a few exhibits. Galleries seemed to be more in the midst of trading stands than previously and the miniature quilts and modern quilts were over in a far corner of one of the halls away from the other categories of quilts. Perhaps it is time for the organisers to rethink the layout and to have more distinct areas for trading, quilts, galleries and catering.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Oh Crumbs!

At this month’s Leeds MQG meeting we had a taster of one of the workshops on offer at Festival of Quilts and we were being guinea pigs for the tutor so he could check instructions, timings, etc. The class is to make a cushion from scraps and an old shirt. The sleeves and back of the shirt are stitched with the scraps to make crumb blocks and a porthole added using reverse appliqué. The front of the shirt is then used to create a button opening cushion back.

I bought a bright checked shirt from a charity shop and decided to use some of my blue and green Liberty scraps for to make the crumb blocks. There was lots of cutting and pressing and trying to be random but progress was made, albeit slightly disrupted due to us having to leave the building mid morning because of a fire alarm.

I got the crumb blocks and porthole done on the day, but my little machine struggled a bit with the top stitching around the porthole.

Once home, I redid the top stitching around the porthole and used the same thread to quilt the cushion front with an increasing spiral pattern.

The button front of the shirt is used to make the back of the cushion. All you have to do is place the cushion front over the buttons (and remember to open a few so you can turn the cushion to the right side after stitching!).

I’m still not sure about crumb blocks, but using an old shirt for the cushion back is a great idea if you don’t like doing buttonholes or inserting zips.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Cabin fever

I’ve been playing around with log cabin blocks this month as I offered to write July’s instructions for the online block of the month club I’ve been following.

June’s BOM involved some improv curves which I found a bit challenging. Each of the sub-blocks were only 5” unfinished, so the curves were quite tight in places. I decided to cut everything oversized and trim to size so I could concentrate on the curves and not have to worry about exact seam allowances.

In contrast to the curves, I’ve gone back to straight seams for July’s BOM and have used wide and narrow pieces in a log cabin block to show the different effects that can be achieved with just the one block.

I had not really realised the versatility of this block as, until now, my only experience of it was making a single large block in a school needlework class many years ago. Now I’ve seen what can be done with it, I won’t be leaving it as long before making more.

If anyone wants to try making the blue and white blocks, the instructions are available as a pdf file.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Becoming partial to partial seams

As I mentioned last month, I have been following an online block of the month club, but when May's block was posted I felt the need to modify it a little.

The original block used a very clever technique of cutting and inserting strips to create a lattice effect. Unfortunately, I knew I would prefer an even effect of "over and under" rather than the uneven effect this creates.

Uneven Weave

I don't have any fancy quilt design programmes but by drawing the block sections in PowerPoint, I came up with a construction method that used partial seams and would give an even weave effect.

Even Weave
Other members of the BOM club also wanted this effect and so I prepared a tutorial which I have now posted in my Projects/Tutorials section. Getting the even weave effect is a bit more complicated than the method for the original block, but partial seams are a very useful technique and hopefully the instructions make it clear which part to stitch, which part to leave open, and when to close the seam.

Please don't be put off by partial seams - give them ago and you might find them useful when trying to work out how to assemble other designs. Now I've conquered partial seams, I next need to tackle my fear of Y seams.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Blocks, blocks, blocks

I seem to have become reacquainted with my sewing machine and have been playing catch up with an online block of the month club. Several evenings of cutting and sewing saw me complete the blocks for January to April and I am now ready for  May’s block to be issued.

I have also completed the first of 35 low volume log cabin blocks for a Project Linus quilt challenge in the same online community. We are limited to two colours and neutrals and I think my interpretation might be stretching the rules a little, but hopefully will create a modern quilt suitable for an older child.
(Apologies if the formatting for this post is a little odd - I’m trying a new app to write posts from my iPad.)