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Thursday, 6 July 2017

What to do with a layer cake?

I wanted to give my day time patchwork class a bit of a challenge and decided to let them have a go at, what is called, stack and whack, techniques. Not a nice expression is it?  So first of all we tackled the three stack of fabrics from two sets of fat quarters.  So the ladies produced a pile of blocks about 5" x 6". They worked jolly hard! 

 The blocks were stiched together to make a couple of bags. These are available for sale in my studio. They are very sturdy with an inner zipped pocket.

So with that done, we moved onto the 9 patch.  I had a lovely layer cake with a poppy print. The pack had 42 squares and we picked out four sets of nine fabrics.  We stacked nine together and cut in two directions.

Next, the indivdual piles are sorted. Leaving the top left hand pile alone, the next along to the right-you put the top fabric to the back of the pile. With the pile to the top right, you move two pieces to the back. This continues increasing the number each time, until each pile has been rearranged.  Keep calm! 

Trying not to upset each pile, stitch together row by row. You don't have to match the seams, in fact this is almost impossible to do. 

Next, stitch the three rows together

Then, square up the finished block to 8 1/2" I use an acrylic ruler from Creative Grids as it's very see through with very clear black lines. 

Here is the trimmed block. 

Repeat with all the remaining stacks and sets of fabrics. Eventually you will have 36 lovely blocks.  It must be said that the ladies in the class worked very hard and made 18 blocks between them.  What a slave driver! 

 We did discuss the next steps and all agreed that the quilt needed 'something else'. I added on the charcoal grey border of 2" finished width. I made sure there were no dark patches in the blocks close to the border.  I then used some more fabric to make an improvised pieced border with dark 'cornerstones'. I added a narrow binding and was done.  I'm one of those odd people who enjoys making and adding the binding. I also don't mind hand stitching the binding whilst watching TV. 

Then the big decision. How would I quilt it?  I found some amazing lime green fabric at Back Stitch out at Burwash Manor. This was just the right width and a mix of cotton and linen. After a few try outs I decided the quilt needed nothing too elaborate and simply stitched wavy lines (about 50 of them!) using my trusty walking foot.  Sometimes, simple is the best option. 

 The finished quilt  is now on my studio wall ready for my Open Studios Event.

I live at Perne Villa, 107 Perne Road, Cambridge, CB1 3SB. There is parking nearby and at the local Co-Op.  I'm open from 11am until 6pm weekends of

July 8-9th
July 15-16th
July 22-23rd


Sunday, 4 June 2017

A creative few months.....

For those of you  'out there' you might wonder why it is I haven't posted on my blog for ages. You might think that I've been hibernating over the winter but nothing could be further than the truth.

I've been very productive recently and completed several quilts, bags and small framed pictures in readiness for my Open Studio event in July

My friends will already know that I'm part of the team which organises Cambridge Open Studios. I look after almost 500 members and deal with most communications. The team began their  work for 2017 back in the previous  autumn when we comissioned the design for the guide cover.  This year sees over 350 artists participating in Open Studios in over  250 venues. 

This is my guide entry picture showing both my textiles and jewellery. 

Mine is a 'working' studio  and is number 70 in the guide book.  I'm open from 11am until 6pm each weekend of

July 8-9
July 15-16
July 22-23

or my arrangement out of these times by phoning me on

The artists closest to me in the Coleridge area have put together a lovely flyer which includes Fernando Feijoo, Jim Butler, Naomi Davies, Lindsay Duff, Clare Wood, Sarah Went, Birgitte Bruun  and Sarah Blake. 

Guides are now available from places like libraries and post offices. Do come  and as our logo says

"Meet the artist and see how their work is made"

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Pineapple blocks are not so hard after all.

I have  always wanted to try out making the well known pineapple block but despite owning the special ruler from Creative Grids, never quite round to it.  

With the new term looming I felt I ought to give it a try before atempting it at my adult education class. Obviously you could paper piece it but I did find a couple of methods of making this fascinating block. 

First of all, I tried the 'exploding' method, much publicised by Karin Hellaby who used to own Quilters' Haven out at Wickham Market. This is a neat method of making this block, without any special rulers.  You simply place two identical squares (one dark and one light) together, sew all around then cut through the uppermost square to create each 'round'. This method is  easily found on U Tube so I will not linger over the method.  I started with a small centre square but there seemed to be a maximum size before the block was no longer a square. The biggest drawback is that each 'log' has to be the same colour (because they have all emerged from the same square of fabric). This is not impossible to overcome but very fiddly. 

I then thought I would try out my special ruler.  Starting with a dark centre of two and a half inches, you stitch on a round of 'logs'. These are pre cut to one and seven eights of an inch wide, and long enough to cover the sides. 

Then you trim and add another round.......

The Creative Grid Pineapple trim tool is very accurate but it takes a while to get adjusted to all the different markings and pay close attention as to whether you are on a even numbered or an odd numbered round...

Doing quite well....quite like the colours so far

Until  I didn't pay enough attention and lopped off the wrong bit....didn't I say you had to pay attention? 

So, I just had to resort to reading the instruction leaflet but did whip up this block in no time.  

And finally this one with batik fabrics. This could become quite compulsive. 

By the way, the ladies in my class found this easy and very enjoyable. 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Reflections and future plans

Not much going on at the moment in my 'creative' life; what with Christmas entertaining and being stuck indoors with a bad cold.  it's a good time though to reflect on the year that has come to a end.  

My only big piece of work was a quilt commission (pieced but still needs quilting) I have had time to do some design work and think hard about what I want to do next. 

 Teaching has been most enjoyable as well as the couple of talks and workshops I've given. By September though I was feeling in a bit of a creative 'cul de sac' with nothing planned. Teaching my daytime  ladies has giving me a new direction and so many new ideas. Some of these I've posted about recently.  I can't wait to get started on a piece I hope to call 'Midnight Stars'. 

I thought I would end the year by sharing a few quilting memes 

And my favourite next...

So, my readers, I will share some of the 'Quilters Code' I came across recently. You might relate to some of these........

UFO: Unfinished Object

PFC: Professional Fabric Collector

STABLE: Stash Accumulaton Beyond Life Expectancy

WITHWIT: What the heck was I thinking?

WOMBAT: Waste of Money, Batting and Time

PHD: Project Half Done

PGB: Projects in Grocery Bags

and finally

QFF:Quilting Friends Forever.

I wish you all a very happy and creative 2017. 

Friday, 23 December 2016

Christmas is close!

This is my 50th blog post since I began just over a year ago.  I decided to start blogging during the summer of 2015 but it took a while to get going. Whilst it can be a fair bit of work each week, I've had some lovely feedback from friends and strangers. 

With Christmas close, I thought I'd share a decoration I've made with a few friends  recently.   So, delve into your Christmas stash and pull out two contrasting Christmas fabrics.  Use a saucer or something similar and cut out two circles of fabric. Place right sides together. 

Next, stitch around the outside with a narrow seam, remembering to secure the start and end. Leave a gap to bring the fabric right side out. 

With the fabric right side out, press and manipulate the gap with your fingers/iron to make sure it's  flat and 'round looking'. Top stitch around the piece close to the edge. There is no need to hand stitch this to close up the gap. Trim off all loose threads.

Using a needle and thread pull together the north, south, east and west points like this

Then, place the fabric onto a flat surface and press it flat.....

Once flat, bring over the outside part of the 'petal' so that it lies flat, a bit like turning over a collar.  Press it flat with your hand. To finish, add a loop to hang it on your tree and either stitch a pretty button the centre (this neatly covers your stitching) or, like me, get out a glue gun and add a 'card topper'. I bought mine from Hobby Craft. 

So here are some of the results:

The above decorations were  made by a group of ladies who meet
 each week at Cherry Hinton library and the ones below made by Lottie (aged 12)  and Joanna, her mum. 

As I await my guests, all the food is bought and presents are wrapped. I hope all is well with you. 

Happy Christmas 

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Seeing stars

My end of term lesson at Coleridge School ended with a reminder of how to make half square triangles (HSTs)-the basis of so many patchwork designs. 

We made quite a pile using two methods concentrating on using a special paper template to stitch on called 'Triangles on  a roll' from Quilt direct in Devon. You lay up two large pieces of fabric, one light another dark. You then stitch on all the dotted lines, cut and press. Lots of HSTs in quick time. 

We also made some HSTs by the usual method of placing two pieces of fabric together, marking a line down the centre and stitching down each side of the line. I found the triangles on a roll method was by far the more accurate with virtually no trimming needed. 

So, planning ahead, I have been making samples ready for the new term. The first week back will be 'stars'. Thinking about a finished block 8" square I made this small block which uses flying geese units made with the 'goose' bit being white instead of the 'usual' darker fabric.  Could look stunning in bright colours or white stars on a bright background. 

Then I thought "what can we do with all those HSTs we made the other week?"

This next star block is much bigger than I usually make. It's 16" using Shibori fabric from Backstitch at  Burwash manor.  I love this fabric! It is much brighter in real life and you can see I took a bit of care to 'fussy cut' the centre block to show off the lovely tie dyed circle.  There will be more! 

Then another star came to mind...

This is  the 'triangle in a square' unit.  I had the template lying gathering  dust so decided to use it.  The unit is quite easy to make and you always make it slightly oversized and trim down. I think this is called the 'Friendship Star'.   

This one is before I stitched it together. 

Here, I've put it all together with a light star on a dark background. I'm not convinced I really like this block which finishes at 12" square. I feel sure alternating  light and dark stars would look very good indeed. 

I got quite enthusiastic about making stars and did a bit of research.  I found this one from the Missouri Star Quilt Company  (MSQC) on U Tube. It 's called the 'disappearing hour glass' block.   The website suggests using two 10" squares but I decided to go a bit bigger and put together  two fabrics, one white, one dark grey, 14" square. 

Step one: place both fabrics RS together and stitch a 1/4" seam around the four edges. Then cut across all four corners. 

Step two: press all seams to the dark side and arrange in a 'hour glass' formation.

Step three: stitch the four units together taking care to match the seams. I then pressed all these seams open and very flat.

Step four: measure the block. Mine came out at 18" square and you then cut the block up into thirds. The maths proved easy with 6" sections.  Don't let it move around too much.

Step five: the centre unit is turned once to the right.

Step six: turn all corner units two turns to the right.

Step seven: the 'middle' units are all flipped over

 Step eight: assemble all nine units, again pressing all seams open and flat.  

This is known as a 'counter change' design. It's a big block with many possibilities. 

Phew...any more variations? I found one more to try. Again inspired by the MSQC I found this block called 'Sweet Stars'.  

Step one: cut 1 light patch 4" square, two 2.5 " light squares, one dark strip 2.5 " by 6" and another dark strip  2.5 " by 4".

Step two:  take the shorter dark strip  and place the small light square on the top, draw a line from top left to bottom right. Stitch and flip over, press and  trim the seam.

Step three: repeat wth the longer but this time  mark from top right to bottom left. Stitch, flip, press and trim the seam. 

This photos shows the wrong sides once the trimming is done.

Step four: lay out the pieces like this and stitch the short strip to the four inch light patch. 

Step five: stitch on the longer strip and it's done. 

Repeat to make four units and stitch together. 

I'm off now to buy more of that Shibori fabric...the creative bug has really kicked in. 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

New adult patchwork class make fabulous progress....

It all started about a month ago whilst sitting at home and checking my email. Coleridge School were looking for a tutor for an adult class every Monday afternoon. The tutor employed to teach this class had dropped out. 

It had been a long held ambition to teach grown ups. Don't get me wrong, I loved teaching children but adults would be a welcome change. I was interested in this class for three reasons: it was on a Monday afternoon, it was 2 minutes walk from my house and it was a beginner's class. Three ticks. 

What followed was a frantic session of form filling of various bits of paperwork. So with 5 days notice I arrived at the school to meet seven delightful ladies full of expectations. The Janome machines were a challenge as I'm a Bernina fan and there were no 1/4" seam presser feet to be seen. Oh, and no bobbins.  

Never mind, I'm used to thinking on my feet and I got the ladies to make a piece of crazy patchwork. 

And the end result by one lady.  However, this quilt evolved using only fabric from my scrap bag. Here's the result..what an eye for colour!!

We also tried a four patch and half square and quarter square triangles. 

Not bad for a pile of scraps!  Looks easy but in practice it is all too easy to forget to completely cover up the previous row and lose all sense of direction. On another day we quilted the pieces and turned them into zipped pencil cases.

Without the proper patchwork feet I decided to take a bit of a risk and teach the class how to do foundation piecing.  Quite mad really as it's not the easiest of techniques to put over but at least you can sew on a line.

I made two samples.....destined to be 'mug rugs'!

This one, above, in an unfinished state and this next one below

where I added quilting and a binding.  Did I mention I was being observed this lesson? A tad nerve racking.........

So, some of the results although not totally finished......

As the weeks progressed we tackled making flying geese. Everone made a set of eight geese and found different ways of putting them all together. 

Last week we made  the 'disappearing nine patch' as shown below.  This is a great block because you get a 'wow' factor for not that much effort.  Accuracy in cutting and piecing is coming along nicely...

Finally, I can't resist adding this last photo. My four year old grandson was in Cambridge last weekend.  I had ready some wooden templates of trees and stars bought at a craft fair. We had a fun afternoon with a glue gun and my button collection. It's great to be a granny....