Having been given a jelly roll and a quilting book for Christmas 2010, there is no excuse not to get on with quiltmaking.

Here's what happened next...


Saturday, 31 December 2011

No-one Said it Would Be Easy

Well, trimming those blocks down was the most difficult thing in the universe.

Not only do the points of the nine patches have to end up in the precise middle of each edge of each block, but each block needs to come out at exactly the same size. And they need to be properly square.

It has taken me two days of extreme concentration doing a couple at a time, and even so, there has been the odd eighth of an inch squished and stretched but the blocks have all been bullyed to fit into three strips of six and I am ready to cut and sew sashing.

As I'm making the quilt slightly larger than the pattern, I'm going round to mum's shortly to put them in-situ on the bed in order to double check that the extra inch I propose on the sashing won't look odd.

And here's the good bit, I'm getting dinner cooked for me too. Hurrah!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

A Recovery and Block Creation

The cream fabric which I made a hash of cutting yesterday was supposed to be 6" wide in order to be starched and cut into 6" squares, then into triangles.

Because I am also using the cream fabric for the skinny stop border, and I had already decided to make this as a 2" finished border (rather than Sue's suggested 1" finished) this reather neatly means that my 5" wide mistake strip will come in very handy for when I'm cutting 2 1/2 " strips. Hurrah!

This evening I have VERY CAREFULLY sewn the triangles onto the nine patch blocks...

...and now I have the nerve-racking job of trimming the blocks to square them up.

But not this evening - my hour and a half concentration period is more than up, and I'll need to come at this one fresh!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

First Piecing for Mum's Quilt

I have had such terrific fun today - and of course it does help that Sue's instructions are so clear to follow!

First of all I took my cut fabric from yesterday*...

...and sewed them into strips...

...then cut them carefully into strip sections...

...and sewed the strip sections into nine patch blocks.


Mind you, I have triangles to cut on the bias for the next step, that'll bring put a spoke in my wheels!

*Just to clear up a safety issue which was very sensibly raised after yesterday's post - I must clarify that although I had a very tasty glass of port poured and in a glass on the worktop, I didn't actually drink it until I'd finished using the wickedly sharp cutter. I am rather attached to my digits, and wish for that happy state of affairs to continue!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Unexpected Presents and a Start

Joanna has a quote from the Disney film Alice in Wonderland (based rather loosely on the Lewis Carroll books 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Alice Through the Looking Glass') at top of her blog, "A very Merry Unbirthday to you, to you. A very Merry Unbirthday to you.", and a few days before Christmas I had a Very Merry Unbirthday indeed.

I received a package through the post from my dear hairy-footed friend which contained these marvellous marbled stof fat quarters, along with a oops-outrageously-belated-birthday-gift note.

Unexpected, delightful and beautiful - I love them, and thank you very much indeed, hobbit, you are extremely kind.

Meanwhile, on this Boxing Day evening, I have retreated to the cool of the sewing room in the attic to de-lint and oil the sewing machine and put in a new needle. And now I have a new blade in the cutter, and I have that thrill of starting a new quilt.

With a glass of festive port, obviously.

Friday, 23 December 2011

A Finish, A Pick and a Pause

I've had an excellent couple of weeks since the December's final Christmas quiltalong - the most satisfying of which has been to actually finish the QAL quilt, Scatty Stars - hurrah!

I would have posted about it earlier, but everytime I've remembered to go and take a few pics, it's been dark and artificial lights mess about with the colour balance - but here it is.

Although it has been through the machine and been aired and is ready for sleeping under, before I get to snuggle up under it, it has to perform another important service - namely being round the Christmas tree tub, an idea I have cribbed shamelessly from one of the other Christmas QAL girls.

Talking of Christmas, here's what I won from Sue's QAL competition - isn't it beautiful? Wonderful needlework, a lovely border, and a pocket on the back to slide a baton through for hanging. Thank you, Sue!

With Scatty Stars out of the way, the next project is mum's quilt (Sue's Antique Nine Patch), so when big sister Helen was here a couple of weekends ago we all went on a shopping trip to the Cotton Patch.

We spent a happy afternoon wading through about a zillion bolts of fabric and finding four to match up with an offcut of mum's carpet and one of her patterned curtains, and finally we all agreed on what went with what and which fabric would be used where - and now I can't wait to get my teeth into this one!

Before diving in, though, I've taken the opportunity to clear the decks in the sewing room - and it's never been so tidy.

Won't last, will it?

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas Quiltalong! December

So this is the final Christmas quiltalong day for 2011, and we are having a gallery of all the projects that we've all worked on this year on the QAL Saturdays.

Now I see that lots of the girls have been working on all sorts of beautiful projects through the year and not just the Scatty Stars quilt either.

I've been plugging away at my version of Scatty Stars and have very nearly finished it - I just need to complete handsewing the binding, bury the remaining tails, and attach a label.

Many thanks to Sue and Cathi for organising this year's QAL Saturdays - it's been brilliant and I've 'met' so many new friends from all around the world!

In fact, it's been so much fun this year that it is all happening again in 2012 from February onwards with a guest host each month - I'll have my pinny on and a warm welcome ready for my turn in February, so do join me for mince pies and sherry for next years quilting project, won't you?

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Fiddly FMQ & Binding

I cut, pieced, trimmed and pressed the binding for Scatty Stars this afternoon, but before I could machine it on, I needed to re-do a couple of the quilted corner stars which were rather near the edge of the quilt.

This was really, really fiddly as they are so near the edge.

Of course if I had been less bloody stubborn, I would have redone the stars after the binding was on - that way I would have had a bit more 'edge' to hang on to whilst doing the FMQ. But no. I tried and unpicked and tried again until I had got it right before I could move on to the binding.

So it took way longer than it should have done, but here is the binding machined and pinned at the back, and an extremely perforated corner with a passable quilted star.

Ends to bury, label to sew & attach, binding to hand sew. Deadline: next Saturday for the QAL gallery...

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Quilting the Borders

I've had a huge dither about how to quilt the grey border on Scatty Stars.

I had a practise with zig zags of various sorts, and tried stars (which didn't work at all). I could have done a stippled border (whee! Loads of fun!) but I didn't think a swirly border would work well with the rest of the quilt either.

Then I had a eureka moment, though, after I saw Joanna's Christmas Wreath quilt, but rather than wavy lines, kept with tram lines, with a star in each corner.

I've trimmed the quilt and it's ready for binding (or will be when I've redone a couple of the corner stars as they are rather close to the edge).

Then burying about ten thousand ends (honestly, I'm not kidding here!) and a label, and I'm done!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Project Number Five

Despite not having finished Scatty Stars (quite), I am cogitating upon the Next Project.

Now that mum's seen the first couple of quilts that I have made, she's asked me to make her a quilt for her bed. The brief was that she didn't want a really 'busy' pattern, and it had to match the three colours in the curtains, and also the carpet.

Ha! Easy peasy - I just gave her Sue's Pick Four and asked her to choose which one she would like me to do for her.

The designs are all lovely, as we know, and for me, I know that the instructions will be good to follow, and I have the added advantage that if I need to alter the dimensions at all, the esteemed author herself will be able to advise on changes in fabric quantity, and other helpful advice. Brilliant!

Mum's chosen Antique Nine Patch, and we will be going on a fabric choosing expedition when big sister Helen is up in a couple of weeks.

I do have my work cut out slightly in that mum wants to have the quilt with side & bottom pieces - as in this example from the FoQ - to cover over the drawers in the bed base.

I was thinking of side panels and a bottom panel that are removable (zip/buttons/velcro?) so that the top can be washed separately - and of course, I'm not sure how and to what extent these pieces should be patterned.

So lots of food for thought there!

So today, I tried out our nearest independent fabric shop (which I had always thought was monstrously expensive) to see if this would be a good place to shop for what we need, as opposed to Hobbycraft, or the well thought of Cotton Patch - which is over the other side of the City.

I had a pleasant surprise to see the bolts starting at £8 a metre - and a sale shelf of selected fabrics at £5 a metre. So I couldn't resist a metre of this wonderful pattern, and an offcut (about a third of a yard) for £2.

A good day!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

That's Better!

Right - I've done the tedious unpicking bit, and I'm now doing the fun FMQ stars.


There's lots of ends to bury at the end, though.

The grey border needs to be quilted, but I'm not sure how at the mo.

More conundrums!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Goldilocks and the Three Bears...

...or Make Your Bloody Mind Up.

I've been cogitating with regard to the colour of the thread used for the FMQ on Scatty Stars - inspecting closely what I've already done in the daylight, and consulting with colleague Rita, and my mother who happened to be around too.

The conclusion is the the light grey is too light, the dark grey is too dark as shown in the pic here.

I am now using a mid grey, and I'm not giving myself the option of changing my mind yet again - it looks better than either of the others, not overwhelming the quilt design, but not fading into nothingness either, so I'm happy.

Well, as happy as a girl with a whole heap of unpicking the too-light and the too-dark sewing can be anyway.

If that Hobbit even thinks, 'I told you to use a practise piece!', there will be trouble!


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Scatty Stars Experimental FMQ

I loaded up the new dark grey thread this evening, and had a play with some FMQ stars to see how the thread looks against the quilt top.

As predicted, I hit my stride this second session of FMQ, and had to stop myself from romping away doing the whole quilt - I had to remind myself that this was a test to see which thread looks better. The two stars at the top of this block are in dark grey, the bottom two are in the light grey.

Jury out until I see it in daylight tomorrow.

Friday, 18 November 2011


Colleague Rita points out that the lovely grey thread that I bought last week for the quilting doesn't stand out as much as it might.

Most irritatingly, I think that she is right.

So before I plough on any further with my FMQ stars, I'll give this darker grey thread a go - possibly the dark grey for the top thread & keep the paler grey for the bobbin thread.

If it looks better than the block and a half I've done, I can undo without too much bad language.


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Scatty Stars Quilting Decisions - Made!

This evening I've finished quilting in the ditch around all the blocks, and of course round all the stars. Which leaves the fun bit of the FMQ stars in the railfence blocks.

Or rather, the bit that will be fun once I hit my stride. I did quite some unpicking earlier, and there's been too much in the way of breaking thread (and I broke another needle - I'm too rough!)

The second block of four stars has started well (bottom left here) - and I sensibly made myself stop before the magic hour and a half mark when my concentration gives out & I start to forget the bobbin etc etc....

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Scatty Stars Quilting Decisions

I got a bit further this evening with quilting Scatty Stars - nice straight lines in the ditches between the blocks, although I've not finished yet.

For quilting the railfence blocks, I am still undecided about how many five pointy stars to FMQ in each block. I thought about four in each, but perhaps that will be a bit dense, so perhaps just one. But then I don't know about the half blocks at the edges.

No doubt it will come to me in due course.

And in other news, as they say, I won Sue's Christmas quiltalong competition, and she says that she will be sending me a small PRIZE - hurrah!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Knowing When to Stop

At 6.30pm this evening, I sat down to quilt round the final five stars on Scatty Stars. I finished this at 8pm and I was so delighted with the result that I dived straight on to FMQ the railfence blocks. Whee!

The theory was to doodle about four stars in each block, linking them by going round the outside ditch of the railfence block. The stars looked great - the line of stitching around the edge of the block not so much. With the thickness of the seam to contend with and the free motion foot, the line was not only wavy, I also broke the thread a number of times.

Then I broke the needle.

Not to be thwarted, I undid that attempt, replaced the needle and dived in again with the walking foot, having decided that if blocks were going to be outlined, I could quilt in the ditch on the long seams, which would just leave the star(s) in the middle of each railfence block to FMQ.

I ploughed on, refreshing the thread in the bobbin, re-threaded the needle and was pleased to travel the entire diagonal length of the quilt with no further mishap.

Er - apart from not having replaced the bobbin back into the machine, that is.

Moral: when I say that I can only concentrate on quilting for an hour and a half, I mean it.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Christmas Quiltalong! November, pt5

Sue is canvassing opinions as to how best showcase the results of the Christmas quiltalong. It looks like she might ask us all to submit a post with what we've worked on - Scatty Stars quilts and and other projects - to a link so that we can all go and see what our efforts have achieved.

I can't wait to see all the Scatty Stars quilts in one place!

This gives me added impetus to get mine quilted and bound! One more session should see the rest of the stars quilted (five more to do), and then the fun bit of FMQ stars in the railfence blocks. Then binding to make, attach and finish.

I wonder if the 'gallery' can be unveiled on what would be the December quiltalong day?

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Christmas Quiltalong! November, pt4

I've quilted around three stars, but got sidetracked by what everyone else has been up to!

So I'll be carrying on tomorrow, but in the meantime, it is time for supper - hot chocolate & an egg custard (and cat supper too, the cats are insisting).

It's the final quiltalong Saturday for 2011 - it's been brilliant fun to take part in, and to share with other quilters all round the world. So thank you to Sue and Cathi whose design & hosting duties have made it all possible!

Christmas Quiltalong! November, pt3

The washing is on the airer, the biscuits in the tin, the lasagne cooking in the oven as we speak - I'm having a productive day!

My trip around the charity shops today for backing fabric for Scatty Stars didn't turn up anything that I liked more than the beige I had planned to use, so I got stuck in when I got back assembling the quilt sandwich.

My cat has no manners - he walked in from the courtyard garden (stage right) and tramped muddy footprints on to the quilt whilst my back was turned and proceeded to wash his neithers when I wanted to take a photo. Tut.

My plan for quilting is to quilt in the ditch around each star, then FMQ stars into the railfence blocks - it's a good Plan in my head, let's see how it turns out in practise.

I've started with sewing round the stars - I really like the way the quilted stars show up on the back of the quilt.

Glass of apple wine & lasagne first, then I should be able to get the sewing round of the majority of the stars out of the way tonight, leaving the fun stuff for tomorrow.

Christmas Quiltalong! November, pt2

I'm doing pretty well so far today - hurrah!

The washing is on the line

The biscuits are cooling on the rack

I've given loads of thought as to how to quilt Scatty Stars, and I have a plan.

And a hitch.

I'm really not sure that I like this backing fabric. It's okay, and it's the best that I have, but as I am just about to nip up the road for a paper, I will have a scout round the charity shops in the town to see if I can do any better.

Christmas Quiltalong! November, pt1

Although I have the whole Quiltalong day ahead to quilt Scatty Stars, I only the ability to concentrate for about an hour and a half at a time with my sewing, so my festive day ahead looks like this:

do the washing and then some quilting

do some baking and then some quilting

start a batch of quince wine and then some quilting

nip up the road to the shops and then some quilting

cook lasagne for tea and then some quilting

And although I have run out of sherry, am not keen on mince pies, I promise to wear this all day to get into the Christmas spirit.
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