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...


Sunday, 30 January 2011

More Sandwiching!

I laid out the mats/runner on the insul-bright wadding & cut that to approximate size, then I did the same with the blue backing fabric.

So - all ready to go!

Not quite - I haven't actually started quilting them due to the Gang of Four raising the hitherto unmentioned subject of quilting thread, & the specialised nature thereof.

The other bit of kit that the girls have recommended is a walking foot.

I can see this this would be useful, as even with quite a small sample, & using spray adhesive to stick the sandwich together, the top fabric does it's best to creep as it goes under the machine foot.

Mind you, I did minimise this once I'd discovered how to decrease the pressure of the foot.

On the bright side, the girls have given me some smashing ideas of how to do the quilting stitching, & the practice pieces look pretty good (that's a T for 'top', by the way - I had a top and a bottom on this practice piece, but foolishly used identical fabric for both sides).

Saturday, 29 January 2011


Thanks to ASding's excellent service, the wadding & spray baste arrived yesterday - hurrah - & having spent time in front of a number of instructional videos, I think I know what I am doing for putting the quilts together.

Where I have a bit of a dither is in the actual quilting - I've ruled out hand quilting (unutterably tedious after about 3 minutes, I suspect), & I haven't got a free-style foot on the sewing machine (which rules out free form squiggly machine sewing), so I have to think of another way.

As I see it, I have two choices.
  • Follow a simple design drawn onto the back fabric with the machine
  • Roar up and down each mat/runner with rows of stitching (an inch apart?), then cross-ways to make a quilt design of either squares or diamonds.
The drawback of (a) is that it might be rather ambitious, and of (b) is that it's a bit obvious if the stitching is wonky.

Advice - as ever! - would be welcome...

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Practice & Thinking Ahead

I put my wadding order in today - there are about a zillion different types, so it took a great deal of head scratching, even after having taken lots of sensible advice.

I've bought a heat resistant type for the mats and runners, & enough of a cotton/poly mix to do both Project 2 (below), & the jelly roll quilt, which will be Project 3 (this is where we came in, I think).

Project 2 will be the Christmas Quiltalong which is being organised by QuiltSue & Shakerwood. There will be step by step instructions to make a festive quilt in time for Christmas - one day a month as a sort of global quiltathon on the second Saturday of each month.

A bit daunting, however Sue says that it should be suitable for the novice quilter, & (lets face it) it's not as if I haven't got enough help if I get in a mess.

I've been practising my seams in readiness - and this natty chain piecing where you zoom a number of seams through the machine one after another to make a string of flags which are then separated & pressed.

It doesn't half speed things up (assuming that you remember to put right sides together - d'oh!) & meant that I put this nine block run together in next to no time this evening. I also tried some hourglass squares, which looked great until it all went a bit wrong & I ended up with a pointy ended tube of fabric...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Project 1 - Tops Finished!

I finished putting the borders on the mats & runner this afternoon – ta da!

I’m finally getting better at ¼” seams – partly out of practise, but more so because I am using a guide as advised. The wodge of post-it notes was a brilliant idea, right up to the point where they unstuck & wandered – I suspect that we use an inferior brand! I popped a length 3mm mounting foam tape on instead, which I had to hand.

What will revolutionise the whole accurate seam business will be using a ¼” quilting foot – although this is proving not straightforward to buy, as all they ones that I’ve found on the internet so far are clip-on feet, which doesn’t suit my ancient machine.

However, the Gang of Four are on the case, & I’ve had a couple of excellent suggestions as to where to go from here, so I’ll get ringing round tomorrow.

Sue’s comments about how to measure & cut borders was very helpful – & although ‘easing to fit’ isn’t the easiest of things for a novice (much undoing of seams!). I’ve got the knack of it now – pin like mad, & stitch the seam on the machine with the slightly longer of the two pieces that you want to match underneath.

Next step – wadding!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


I had some very good practise with the cutter this evening, as I reduced the gunmetal grey shirt from the charity shop into 2 ½” strips.

Once I had these – a great pile of strips ranging from about 10” to 26” in length – I set about working out how many I needed for borders for the mats & runner.

As big sister Helen said in an email the other day ‘Ah, yes, did we all forget to mention that there are some maths skills involved in patchwork?’, & after my cock up with working out how much to cut off the half bricks, I was especially careful.

I think that I’ve got it right – it better bloody well be, as the shirt wont stretch to another set of the same, but a bit bigger.

And my current preoccupation with seams continues. Because of the configuration of the needle/foot/fabric grabber things like crocodile teeth, I’ve not been able to work out how put something on the plate which will act as something to butt up against.

But because Bilbo keeps banging on about it, I’ve puzzled it through, & put a marker strip down to see if that means that I can judge the quarter inch better. First indications are that it does.

Hmm. *Note to self: take more notice of advice given by experienced quilters.

Monday, 17 January 2011

More Piecing

I finished piecing the brickwork on the mats & runner tonight!

Although I must confess to a ‘cheat’ which is helping with the accuracy of my seams no end – a 'vanishing fabric marker' called an 'air erasable pen', sold in the haberdashers, right next to the tailor's chalk.

It means that I can lay the ruler on the seam below, and run along with the pen on the actual sew line - and I have no more narrow bricks! I don’t think that I’ll have to use it for too long, as I get more used to sewing seams, but I must say that it’s been very helpful.

So all mats are pieced, and now I have the makings of the borders to go round. I bought this gents cotton shirt in Oxfam today for £3.45.

Originally it was from Next, and it felt really new - the buttons were still stiff!
I've cut round all the seams and have started to cut it into 2.5” strips.

Once these border pieces are on, I’m going to have to start to worry about wadding, backing and actual quilting…

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Project 1 - Piecing

With all the strips cut out ready, I added the infill bits to rows 2 & 4, & then trimmed the excess off ready to piece the strips together.

All was going well, until I did exactly what Bilbo reminded me not to do – I cut too much off the half bricks on a 'row 2 & 4' strips as I forgot to add on the seam allowance.

Once I’d unpicked these & put in replacements & trimmed them to the correct size, I started to make up the strips into blocks.

I started with the runner – Rita & I agreed that mistakes on this will be less noticeable than on the placemats. “It’s further away from you, & you can always stick a plant on it!” she said.

In the event, the runner & the first placemat look ok – although the bricks have ended up being slightly less than 2” in width, so I still need to work on my seam sewing, but overall, coming on ok as a first go.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Project 1 - Start

Here we go - actual piecing fabric - hurrah!

I started with my fabric squares and sewed them together in strings of three.

Once I'd done all of those, I chopped them in half lengthwise.

And this evening I've been playing with the layouts of the mats & runner.

I need to tag the extra spare half brick onto the start of row 2 & 4 for each mat from the pile of spare squares.

And I need to re-do a couple of the 3 run blocks, due to the cutter not following the ruler line. Running the cutter against the ruler is harder than you would think! It had a mind of it's own on three of my cuts - another thing that needs more practise.

This aside, I'm pleased with today!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Project 1

Colleague Rita has told me to let you all know what I'm planning for Project 1 so that you can advise if necessary, so here we are.

I'm planning to make 4 place mats & a runner out of a charm pack of pink plain & patterned 5" squares. There.

She's also told me that my original Plan was rather ambitiously complicated, so we've thrashed out a compromise.

The place mats will end up being 3 squares by 2 squares in size and then afterwards have a border added:

I start by running three squares together, then I'll cut each 3 square run in half longitudinally, & shift the pieces like this to make a brickwork effect. I can cut off the half bricks from row 2 & 4 and swap them to fill the gaps.

The border will be the plain dark green, backing possibly baby blue.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Material III

My parcel arrived from Creative Grids this morning – hurrah! – so now I am have all my equipment for quilting at my fingertips!

Material, cutter, ruler, mat, sewing machine, iron. Check!

I even have a Plan for project number 1, which I shall be embarking on this weekend. I’m not telling you lot about it just yet - I need to run the details past colleague Rita tomorrow to make sure I've got things straight in my head.

I think that it is simple enough, however I fully expect that I may need your help at some point! Speaking of which, here is today’s beginner’s question – I can use material marked as ‘linen’ on the label, can’t I, because that’s just cotton by another name, right?

I saw couple of tops in the charity shop at lunchtime, 100% pure linen – one was a size 22 long line tunic, & it struck me that it consisted of an enormous expanse of good quality fabric – all for the grand sum of £1.99.

Talking of fabric, I’m going to play with some 5” squares.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Second & Third Attempts

I’ve had another practise at tiny weeny ¼” seams again this evening - & then I had a crack at piecing some bits & bobs of scraps of fabric together.

This attempt was really not very good at all.

You’re eyes are not going funny as you look at this – it isn’t even a parallelogram, it’s just a four sided shape.

I paid rather more attention to the fabric cutting (can’t wait for delivery of cutter/mat/ruler), as well as going goggle eyed over trying to get the seams even for the next attempt.

It is an improvement - each of those nine centre squares is a pretty pleasing 2” square (it looks nothing like, here - so click on the pic to enlarge).

Maybe the next lesson should be learning how to choose fabrics which don’t clash so badly as to induce migraine!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Ok – if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn anything – & I realise that I have made a big dropped clanger of a mistake.

I’ve been quite pleased at my early attempts with the neatness of my seams – although puzzled that they look so big. After all, I’ve been working with the fabric edge to the mark just to the left of the ⅝” mark on the base plate of the sewing machine, as this will give me a ¼” seam.

Er – no, you nitwit, it won't.

Well obviously this is the ½” mark which explains why my seams look so massive - it is because they are massive.

You all spotted it in an instant, of course, & SewAli’s polite comment, "Generally in patchwork we work with a ¼” seam," should have alerted me too.

But the alarm bells didn’t really kick in until Flum said, “As long as all your seams are the same, it almost doesn't matter what they are.”

Ring-a-ding! Hello! Quilters calling Hazel!

Once realisation dawned, I had a crack at proper ¼” seams today – blimey – they are TINY!

More practise needed - & you lot are going to have to be a lot less subtle.

Monday, 10 January 2011

First Steps!

Well – I have had my first play around with fabric & sewing machine this evening!

This was a lot of fun – eventually – despite ending up with more questions than I started with, & this being my first attempt at sewing a straight line – eek!

Initial snags:

• I plugged in the sewing machine in & nothing happened
• Once the machine was working, it proceeded to refuse to pick up the thread from the bobbin underneath & merrily perforated the fabric rather than sewing
• the BRAND NEW needle snapped & the tip pinged I Know Not Where whilst I was winding the bobbin, as I managed to skew the foot round so that the needle hit it at speed. (There’s bound to be a lever to stop the needle bombing up and down when you’re winding a bobbin – can’t think where it is on this machine though.)

A mountain of thread and offcuts later, and I’d progessed to this.

The seams look massive – do you trim them?

And they show through when pressed – is that normal?

I was pleased that I sewed three bits together, chopped them in half then turned them round and put them back together again so that the seams matched – although in retrospect, this would have been rather more impressive if I’d used three different fabric strips to start with, not bits of the same.

A good start, I think – although I must remember to buy an un-picker.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Credit Where It Is Due (ha ha - geddit??)

Barclaycard have surpassed all expectations - the Securities Department called Thursday afternoon to say they my credit card had been 'compromised', & that they were cancelling my card & issuing a new one which would be with me in 3 to 5 working days.

The new card was delivered Saturday morning's post.

That's less than two days - well done, Barclaycard, Cinderella will go to the ball I can now order my mat/cutter/ruler set.


Friday, 7 January 2011

Material II

I nipped into Hobbycraft this evening - just to have a look, you know - & saw that some of the bundles of fat quarters, & some of the fabric rolls were half price.

I do like a bargain, so it's possibly a good job that I don't have a working credit card on me (except the work one, but I'm not sure that I could find a way to smuggle a fabric purchase past the accountant as a valid work expense).

Talking with colleague Rita this morning, she suggested keeping an eye out for pretty cotton print fabric blouses/dresses at charity shops for a ready source of material - & it wouldn't be a bad move to tootle over to the big Rag Market in Birmingham at some point too - there must be all sorts of 'roll ends' being sold off in bargain bins...

Thursday, 6 January 2011


I may be up for some sort of award soon, I feel – for the longest time banging on about a new hobby before actually knuckling down to it.

I am inching towards actually doing some quilting, though, I promise – & here’s what I will be doing it with.

In the foreground is a generous pile of offcuts for practising with which arrived in the post this week from a very kind Bilbo in Cumbria. She said, ‘Do ensure you "waste" all the fabric I sent you and sort out stitch quality, seam allowances and finding out how different things go together with fabric that doesn't matter!'

How lovely is that!

Above are a pile of fabric squares which colleague Rita gave me about 12 months ago when she was having one of her periodic declutters, & at the back is the jelly roll, which is where we came in, I think.

I’ve gathered some bits & bobs of material over the years, too, & I think that both the dark green & the paisley grey/brown will come in useful – maybe as backing fabrics.

So I am a step closer wielding a needle.

However, I did hit a snag today when the fraud department at Barclaycard phoned to say my card security had been ‘compromised’, & if I would chop my card up, they’ll have a new one out to me in short order.

I’ve no problem going back to a cash economy for the Sainsbury shop tomorrow, but it does mean that the order for the mat/ruler/cutter set from Creative Grids will have to wait a few days more.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


I’ve been thinking about the basic equipment of quilting – a mat, cutter & ruler. I’ve taken advice from my quilting friend in Cumbria & I think that I have settled on the special offer set available from Creative Grids.

Not one to rush into things, I’m still mulling this over before buying online at the weekend.

I thought that the other (& bigger) equipment of quilting – a table, sewing machine & ironing board – would be more straightforward; after all they are all here together & to hand!

Or rather, they have been all here together & to hand in the attic room for the last ten years - until about a month ago, when the table which was put to its proper use in the new kitchen.

Now this work table is separated from ....

....this sewing machine & ironing board by....

....TWO flights of these stairs.

I will either become incredibly fit running up & down stairs, or – more sensibly – move the sewing machine downstairs to the kitchen. Look, there’s even a little gap for it in the corner with its own socket.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Quilting? Why Do You Want To Do That, Then?

My big brother is bound to ask, him being of the school that if you want or need something, why on earth wouldn't you just buy it from someone who's job it is to make it?

For example, Marks & Spencer sell smart & stylish jumpers for a lot less than even the wool would cost, & that's before you've knitted it up & sown it together - also, that's assuming that you are a reasonably competent knitter who won't produce a jumper with three arms, or an 8" circumference neck, or something.

Equally, why would you grow vegetables at your allotment when Tesco sells them all washed & ready to cook? And making wine - how odd! And your apple wine doesn't even taste like proper wine!

Etc, etc.

Well, I do these things because practical hobbies stretch the mind, satisfy a creative urge, & you get something unique at the other end of it that you can be proud of making.

Mind you, I might be the world's most rubbish quilter, in which case, I would still get something unique at the other end, but it might end up being a talking point for the wrong reasons, in which case I will stick to making my apple-wine-which-doesn't-taste-like-wine, & chalk it up to experience.

Of course, I may be utterly brilliant - but I won't ever know if I don't give it a whirl, will I?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

A New Year, A New Project

My thoughtful & generous big sister Helen very kindly gave me a jelly roll & a quilting book for Christmas - she knows that I admire the quilts of blog friends, & that I'd love to have a go myself.

When I thanked her for her present on the phone on Christmas day, she said, 'You have no excuse now!'

She's never been afraid to turn her hand at anything arty - she's a fine artist in coloured pencil, turned out a quilt for mum's small dog last year, & knocks out cross stitch & knitting projects at the drop of a (crocheted) hat.

Of course, you can't just dive into these things, & I'm very lucky to have a rather good support network of helpful & clever quilters around who are happy to advise and answer my daft questions.

So first things first - a jaunt to the local craft shop in the next couple of days to scrutinise essential equipment - a cutter, mat & ruler.

I'm not saying that this new endeavour will be quick, & I'm not saying that it will be particularly impressive, but I'm having a crack at it.
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