Monday, January 31, 2011

A couple of ATCs

This one is for a personalised swap - the person listed a favourite colour of green, and likes birds and butterflies...

And this is one of a series of four made for a swap with the theme Vintage French...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stained Glass

Progress was made today on the black crosses quilt - I am sewing the rows together as I go, to avoid that feeling of dread you get when you see a big pile of blocks waiting to be sashed and joined. There will be 4 more rows of blocks to come, and of course a black border all the way around it.

I also worked on some block lotto blocks today, which I can't show until February (which is - yikes! - two days away), but it does mean I got a lot of stuff sewn. And although the stained glass blocks didn't contribute much to the scrap basket, there were some offcuts and miscellany added due to the block lotto blocks. Although, I did also use some bits FROM the scrapbasket in making those blocks, too...

Saturday, January 29, 2011


A number of things done today - joining these blocks to make a top (though the top row needs adjusting a little), more work on the hand-dyed black cross nine patches (I am going to sash them and make a lap quilt 6x7 blocks) and some other things I can't show until February (block lotto blocks, a swap quilt, etc) . So it's not an exciting photo day, even though I did sew for several hours... Maybe tomorrow will have more to show for itself!

The scrap basket won't look substantially different - a few bits in and even a few out. But not so as you'd really notice, probably.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Next cross stitch...

Here's what I've moved on to - it's not big, so I have hopes it will be done before winter is gone (at the moment, it feels like it will never go!). I also have the other seasons as well, so Spring may come quite soon in the stitching rota.

I grabbed a piece of linen to do this one, but it's 30 count and I'm finding that very tiny - I can see it ok, it's just FIDDLY. Here you can see some snow, and the outline of where the bird will be...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oriental Fans

After several years spent contemplating how I was going to quilt this quilt (the blocks came from a European block swap a while - a long while - back and some have lace or other more 3D embellishments) I finally just had it longarmed, which worked fine, as it happens. I still need to get a binding onto it, but I think it looks very nice!

here's a closeup of the quilting pattern...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brown Paper Bag

This is a series of ATCs made for a swap on the ATCs for All forum - theme being brown paper bag (which had to be used as a background for the card). I wanted to stitch mine, but they looked a bit bare when I was finished, so I added some stamped dragonflies, which I think are only medium successful. Can't decide whether I like these cards or not!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pretty Garden Sampler - finished

Here's a cross-stitch I finished the other night - very sweet, isn't it! It might go as a gift for someone, though I wouldn't be sorry to keep it, mind you.

Photo below shows where I was last time I posted:

I've got a new cross-stich going - I did pick up the beach huts one and stitch a little on it the other night because I hadn't got a new project out yet, but that one's just too summery, so once I got organised, I switched to a little winter themed one. No photo yet, as it's just a bunch of white rows (snow) - not exciting yet!

And thanks to Rita, who sent me (by attachment this time ) the mock-up she did of the cross blocks, sashed. I really like this layout - I think sashed will have to be the way to go, despite the fact that it will take longer to make them. Like this, they look like stained glass - don't you think?

Monday, January 24, 2011


Well, I was going to show an image that the lovely Rita sent me, of what yesterday's blocks would look like completely sashed in black (great!) but as it was embedded in the email, I can't get it out to upload to blogger. Oh well!

Instead, I'll show the photos of the quilt which came back from the longarmers a while back, which I finally got bound and whatnot - so here it is. I have this one in mind for an upcoming (but not very soon) wedding present, unless DH prefers to give them another one I have hanging around - I will let him have final say as the groom works with him...

Don't know if you can see the quilting well in this one or not - it's lovely. And the binding is just scrappy batiks...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Black crosses

So, here's what I have at the end of today's sewing time (that, and 6 more of the batik boxed in blocks I did yesterday - will show those again once I've got all 12 sewn together into a top) - but first, here's a little background (I just wanted this photo at the top because it's pretty!)...

Still making my way through various scrap baskets - having cleared the batik scrap basket, it was time to tackle the hand-dyed fabric scrap basket (and yes, the odd bit of green batik does seem to have snuck in there as well, hmm). Or rather, scrap baskets, as there is this one as well:

The top on is miscellaneous scraps of assorted sizes and shapes. The bottom one is actually all 2.5" squares, though they don't look it as they are rather higgeldy piggeldy. Most of the squares are from the days when I used to do and swap a lot of colour runs and gradations with my dyeing group. They used to be filed carefully away with the dye names, etc, but honestly, I never really looked at them and decided they'd do better as scraps. Of course, then they sat in a basket for ages! I decided I'd try to do something with the squares and get the other basket sorted out into strips, larger scraps and general scraps for the main scrap basket.

I didn't get anywhere near emptying the squares basket, but it's a heckuva lot neater than it was:

And the other one, is empty. Hoorah! Or course, the scrap basket is more full than it was yesterday...

What I did with the hand-dye squares was to make a load of random 9 patches (I have made 30 so far - might make more, not sure) - and then slice them and insert black crosses, like in the top photo (only 6 have the crosses done so far - the others are still in 9 patch state). This works well because the colours look good together, but also because it's quite casual - you don't have to be 100 per cent accurate with seam matching, because you are going to slice them apart and join them in a slightly wonky way later anyway. Which meant that I didn't have to re-measure every 2.5" square to make sure it really was 2.5" - the ones which were obviously a lot bigger or smaller I either trimmed or put in the scrap basket.

What I have to decide now is whether I want to use these blocks joined up together like in the top photo, which is a pretty fun look (and if I do, I think I will want more blocks as they will finish at 5") or whether I want to sash them with some black (in which case 30 will probably be enough for a small quilt). I think both options have their merits. Of course, the number of squares I have, I could easily do both options, except for getting totally bored of that block well before I finished the projects!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Boxed in Batiks

Well, I was right - that block which I originally saw over on soscrappy, does look good in batiks and blacks... I started a few the other evening, and finished 6 today - there are also 6 more in progress, up to about the first leg of the outer batik round. I reckon 12 of these (12" blocks finished) will make a nice little top...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fabric in...

I forgot to show the fabric (not a lot) which I picked up at the Farnham Maltings Quilt Show and Fabric Sale last weekend. The orange and yellow batiks are for a backing for an autumnal quilt with a good deal of orange in it - the quilt is from a swap about way-too-many-years back, and I think needs to be finished this year. The colours go nicely, and even better - the fabric was £2/metre.

The other two pieces are just a few bits from remnant bins which I liked.

And I got a bit more as well - a nice remnant of an oriental blue, which is big enough to back a baby quilt or small lap quilt. The batiks are quite small pieces, but I love the blacks and reds - a bit of WOW and BOB for stash, and the other one has Kokopellis or other Native American dancing figures on it, which is again, something I really like. And that's it - not a huge haul, but good fun, and I'm delighted with the backing fabric - £12 for 6 metres can't be beat - not when quilting fabric is running £12/metre in many places over here!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

String Heart Tutorial

A while back I mentioned that I was going to write up some instructions about how to do the string heart blocks - given that I made this decision about halfway through making them, I don't have any instructions for the very first part of the process - making the string pieces. But I think everyone can probably work that out - it's just some rectangles stitched together to make another rectangle...

Anyway. For the heart blocks, first you want to work out what size you want your finished blocks to be. I chose to make 8" blocks (8.5" unfinished), so for each block I needed two rectangles, 8" (8.5") x 4" (4.5") - you can obviously make your blocks any size you choose.

I decided to build my string blocks quite straight - so that all the stripes of the strips were parallel - but that's not required - if you want to make your blocks with wonkier strings, or diagonal strings, or vertical strings, go for it. The block which I saw on Sophie's blog which inspired me originally was done in a more liberated style and looks fabulous, so I'm sure whatever choice you make, it will work.

Once you have your basic rectangles, you are ready to start turning them into hearts.

For each heart half, you will need one square of background fabric the width of your rectangle, or narrower. If you use a square the same width, the bottom of your heart will meet in a sharp point - I decided I didn't want a sharp point, so I used a 4" square on my 4.5" wide strip. You will also need two squares of fabric half the width of your strip, or narrower. If you use ones which are exactly half the width, the top of your heart will be pointy. In this instance, I have used 2" squares.

First step is to line up your larger squares with the bottoms of your rectangles, and stitch across the diagonal. For each heart, you will need to sew one square on from top left to bottom right and one from top right to bottom left. If you are using squares which are narrower than your rectangles, be sure to line them up correctly, like I've done here.

If you want to, you can sew a parallel line to the one across the diagonal, so you can cut away the waste triangle and use the resulting half square triangle unit for another project. But you don't have to, that's up to you.

Here's what the units look like once I've cut away the waste triangle units...

...and pressed them.

Now you are ready to add the top squares to make the top of the heart - looks like I missed a photo in the process, but it's the same as before - line a square up with each top corner and stitch across the diagonal. This time, you are doing both corners, so it doesn't matter which you do first, as long as you stich across the diagonal which goes across the corner. Here they are are trimmed and pressed

Then, repeat on the other side - line up a square, stitch across the diagonal,

Then press open. If you are more thrifty or more crazy than I am, you can do the same thing here that I did with the bottom and turn the waste pieces into more useful scraps, but I'm not that serious about my scraps!

Here's the two halves, with all the background pieces sewn on now.

All that remains is to stitch the two pieces together to make a heart - hey presto!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Old books and pages

Lately I've been doing a lot of ATCs, etc with book pages as backgrounds or partial backgrounds - something which I love doing. I have a number of old books in English, a couple in Latin and one or two in German which I can use for this purpose, but would love some books or book pages in other languages - older books are great, but frankly, newer ones are ok, too, so if you happen to have something tattered you were going to throw away, please let me know, and perhaps I can take it off your hands (happy to pay postage).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Skinny Challenge

Nope, I'm not on a diet (not yet, anyway - probably soon!) - this is a piece for a challenge that BQL (British Quilting List) is doing this year - several times through the year there will be a challenge in a specific size and those wishing to take part can make a piece, which will then be available for swapping in a similar way to the way my ALQS works. The first challenge, due at the end of February, was for a piece 12x18", so I decided to try out something like a small piece I saw on Julie's blog recently.

This uses some (but not much) of my collection of Lonni Rossi fabrics, which I love, but never seem to find enough chances to use (they are quite large prints, in many cases).

I think it's come out well. If no one puts it on their "want" list, I shall be more than happy to keep it at home!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Art Quilt Collection

Apparently, one of the advantages of writing a long-time, somewhat prolific quilting (and/or other arts) blog is being given the opportunity to review the occasional product or book - I've seen this happen on other blogs, and looked on enviously, but haven't had the chance to take part in such a golden opportunity myself. Until now, that is - and it was well worth the wait as it was indeed a golden opportunity being asked if I'd like to review Sixth & Spring's new book: The Art Quilt Collection (Designs and Inspiration from Around the World).

The Art Quilt Collection is a beautifully presented book, which strives to visit a wide variety of art quilts from many different artists around the world, in many different types and styles, from the largely realistic to the highly abstract, stopping anywhere and everywhere in between. If you have never been sure you liked art quilts because they were too "out there", this book will have something for you; if you like those art quilts which are based on the traditional, but with a contemporary or modern edge, this book will have something for you; if you are a fan of the weird and wonderful - those pieces verging on the "but is it really a quilt" edge of art quilting - this book will have something for you. Hang on, a minute, you're thinking - that's pretty much everyone- yes, it is.

[This book would also make an excellent weapon against all those people who, when you mention you're a quilter, say things like "oh, you mean you make those blanket things with leftover dressmaking fabrics" and "what's the point of cutting fabric apart only to stitch it back together again?" or - god forbid - "but is sewing really an artform?".]

Laid out basically one quilt & artist to a page (except where a technique is described), the book presents a short artist statement with a description of the materials and techniques used in making the featured quilt. A good sized full-colour photo of the quilt (or quilted object) is accompanied by a smaller detail photo. A handful of pieces come with the added bonus of a tutorial for using some of the methods themselves, including pleating, using colour photographs on fabric, fusing small scraps to make a new fabric, and so on. That said, The Art Quilt Collection is first and foremost a book for looking rather than doing - and looking again, and again - and then probably again and again.

This is a sumptious book, full of things to admire and be inspired by and would make an excellent quilter's gift, or treat to yourself. Definitely a keeper.

The Art Quilt Collection: Designs & Inspiration from Around the World
Foreword by Linda Seward
October 2010, Sixth & Spring Books
see sample pages on Sixth & Spring's website

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Batik scraps

Today I went with a friend to the annual fabric sale and quilt show at Farnham Maltings, so there wasn't much sewing - a few minutes spent attaching a piece of binding to be sewn down later this week was all. But I did see an idea on the scraphappy blog which I wanted to pinch - I think this particular block would look great in reds and white, and may make some when it comes to that month in the scrap challenge, but I also thought it would look good in batiks, with the inner square being black instead of white (see above!) -don't you agree?

So I decided to dig out my batik scrap basket - yes, I confess to having had a separate basket (smaller than the main one) for batik scraps. It was fairly full, so I knew I'd be able to cut plenty of 2.5" squares from the scraps to get the squares needed for the blocks. And of course, there are lots of other small bits of batik which are too large to be called scraps, which I could cut into if needed, in the main stash.

Here's the batik basket - pretty full, including a plastic baggie of joined pieces left over from some block making some time back. I decided that really I didn't need a separate batik scrap basket, and it should be incorporated into the main basket, and the strips and larger pieces into the main strips and larger pieces places. So, the state of the scrap basket isn't so good (see sidebar), but I did add this lovely pile of strips to my strip stash:

and cut all these 2.5" squares for the Boxed In blocks - which will be a good start, at least.

and look!

That's got to be worth something, right?