Saturday 25 April 2015

Free-motion Joy and Two Finished Quilts

I have been asked by a dear friend to make a couple of quilts for her newly refurnished sitting room, and when these lovely fabrics from Lewis & Irene arrived in the post I was over the moon. This range is called Honey Meadow and I just love the soft blues and browns, and the little honeybee is so sweet! I was sent varying amounts from the range as well as a jelly roll, the rest was left to my imagination! I must say, it really was a lovely compliment to be trusted to come up with something she would like, and believe me, this lady knows her quilts!!

So trying not to feel the pressure… I had a play around with the fabrics for a few days, and soon enough an idea emerged from the back of my mind where I keep my extensive “to-do, must-try, new challenge” list – a Lone Star! I have loved this quilt design ever since I discovered quilting, but way back then it involved English paper piecing and many many diamonds. However, now strip piecing is all the rage, it sooo much easier!

As you may have gathered by now, I’m not a fan of making things easy for myself by 
following someone else’s pattern, I would much rather work it out for myself. I have to admit I do like the odd bit of maths, and I love geometry… they do say its good for the brain, don’t they. Anyway, I drew out my diamond shapes, checking that the angle was correct for the second large diamond, then worked out how many smaller diamonds I would need from each 2½” strip.

Once I got my head around matching the seams by slightly offsetting the pieced rows, the large diamonds came together quite quickly, I then referred back to my drawing to work out the size of the solid triangles I needed for the corners and sides. I pieced the Star in quarters, then halves, then into one whole. For the border I chose a simple mitred strip in blue which I think frames the star very nicely.

For the second quilt, I decided to try yet another block on my to-do list, the Granny Square. I’ve seen this a lot on Pinterest lately and believe its inspired by the crochet granny squares used to make those beautiful blankets.

I separated the remaining 2½” strips into lights and darks, then decided to have four different designs, one with a brown centre cross, one with a brown outer ring, one with a blue centre cross, and the other with a blue outer ring. I then laid these out in diagonals. At first glance this quilt does look quite scrappy, but there actually is a pattern there. Once I had trimmed down my blocks into squares, I added sashing strips, then a simple border.

Now the quilting… I am quite proud of my quilting here, and it’s all down to an inspiring lady I may have mentioned before, Angela Walters from Quilting Is My Therapy. If you 
remember I attended two of her lectures on free-motion quilting at QuiltCon, and bought her book, Shape by Shape, which as you can see, came in very handy indeed.

I decided to do some parallel quilting on my Lone Star, turning direction by 45degrees in each star point. I then worked on the negative space by marking out these on-point squares in each corner, then filling in with four triangles. I then filled these shapes with swirls and figures-of-eight. 

I quilted a loose meander in the other triangles, together with a wavy design in the border. I wanted to keep this quilting quite loose as the lines on the star are quite intense make the quilt a little stiff – not very cuddly for snoozing on the sofa!

I also used this shape-by-shape technique in the Granny Squares quilt by keeping within each block and adding some orange peel shapes on point, then filling the outer space with back and forth lines, and the inner ring with dense clamshells. This again made these parts quite stiff, so I chose to quilt simple lines in the sashing and borders to loosen the quilt up.

These quilts have given my machine and my shoulders a really great workout, and I can’t wait for more… but that’s another post!

I do hope you like my quilts and this post, if you have any comments or questions, please post them below. I would love to hear from you and promise to reply as soon as I can.

Saturday 18 April 2015

I'm running a Doughty Workshop!

This bright and cheerful quilt is called A Whirlwind of Colour and is one I made for John Louden last year using one of their beautiful blender ranges.

And I am very happy to say that lovely Doughty's have asked me to run a workshop on how to make this colourful gem! We will be making a slightly smaller version (approx 44" x 44") made from pre-cut jelly roll strips from Louden's stripy blender range.

The workshop is on Saturday 25th April in Doughty's fully equipped lesson room above the shop in Hereford. There are still a few places left, so if you're in the area, living or visiting, why not book your place and come make a quilt! Further information and booking details are on Doughty's website.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Squaring up Blocks

A friend recently asked me to look at a quilt pattern she had tried, but just couldn't get the points to match. I have to say, the pattern was pretty vague in the technique department! The blocks are made up by placing pairs of rectangles right sides together, drawing a diagonal line just off centre, and sewing  ¼” away on either side. You then cut down the drawn line, and viola, you have two blocks. This same technique can be used to make up HSTs (half square triangles), but like my friend, I have found that my resulting blocks are never as square as they should be. So I thought I would share with you today my tip for squaring up these kinds of blocks using your quilter's ruler and rotary cutter.

So once I'd sewn and cut down my diagonals, this was the result.... as you can seen the edges are far from even and the diagonal points are a bit off.

Firstly lay your block on a cutting mat, and take your quilter's ruler - it must be one with a 45degree diagonal mark, I find the square rulers much easier to use than the long ones.

The first line to worry about is your diagonal, match up the one on your block with that on your ruler and this will ensure you have sharp points at your corners when you come to cut.
Now think about what size your cut block needs to be - when I'm cutting my own HSTs I tend to add on an extra ¼” to the squares just to give me a little more trimming room. In this case, I want my finished cut size to be a 4¼” square, so I need to check that my block more than covers that area under my ruler by bringing the top and right side edges down and slightly over the 4¼” mark. You should check that the 4¼” mark on the diagonal line is also covered.

As this block has a centre square, you also need to line up these points with the ruler, this will help loads when you come to sew these blocks to each other! So in this case, I've lined up the  21/8” ruler mark with both sides of the small square. Now you're all lined up, trim down the right side and across the top with your rotary cutter. 
Once trimmed, turn your block 180deg and line up your ruler marks again, first the diagonal, then the 4¼”marks, this time lined up accurately at the top and right side, and finally the 21/8” marks on the centre square. When you're happy trim down the right side and across the top. You should now have a perfect square like so... I went on to cut a few more blocks...

And when sewn together in groups of four, you get this block... do you see how accurately lining up those 21/8” marks and the points on the diagonal really helped me match my points?!

I hope you found this post helpful, if you have any questions, please leave me a message and I'll reply as soon as I can.
For the first time, I am linking up with Late Night Quilter's Tips & Tutorials Tuesday

Sunday 5 April 2015

Sunday Stash #5 - A New Toy!

I had been struggling with what to feature this week as I'd run out of 'new' fabrics, though of course I haven't even started on my main stash as yet! So I started pulling out some favourites, and found it quite theraputic trying out different fabrics together to photograph, I do love putting colours together!

I know many people share my love of 1930s prints, so I thougt I'd concentrate on those today, these red and yellows are just crying out to be put together in a cute whimsy quilt. In fact I'm sure I've made a quilt top in this fabrics... but can I find it!!?!

The second pic is from a collection I bought on a trip to the US a few years ago when we were in Boston and drove up to the beautiful Cape Cod. On the way there just happened to be a wonderful quilt shop in Barnstaple I think it was. I'm not sure these fabrics actually go together, but then again, the 1930s prints do lend themselves well to scrappy quilts.

While I was pondering on today's blog, to my joy the doorbell went and Royal Mail delivered my new toy, not bad on an Easter weekend! Now, as you may know, I used to work at Doughty's fabric shop in Hereford. Well, right next door were Parrs Sewing Machines, a family business specialising in selling sewing machines as well as fixing and maintaining them - there is nothing Shirley Parr doesn't know about a machine! In recent years however, they have been working on a new system to help us quilters who love free motion quilting, but just can't quite invisage getting a longarm anytime soon. So Shirley and Bruce came up with the Reel Ruler system which includes a foot, which fits most sewing machines, that sits inside of their slotted rulers, of which there are many!

When I was in Austin I had a go on a Gammill... wow! And I finally understood the use of rulers in free-motion quilting, though on the longarms they use solid shapes for the foot to run around the outside. With the Reel Ruler, the foot runs along the inside of the ruler giving you more control on a domestic machine. This is the idea anyway... I'm planning on spending the rest of today playing with different designs. If it really is as easy as Shirley makes it look in her videos, I can see me investing in their whole collection! Watch this space...

I should add, Parrs Sewing Machines is no longer in Hereford, due to the popularity and demand of the Reel Ruler they are nowing travelling far and wide (including the US) to spread the word, and by all accounts they're going down very well indeed! Contact details are on their website.

Linking up with Molli Sparkles' Sunday Stash