Time for Teal 19: I am a machine!

Seriously making up for lost time here…

right dresden borderI’ve finished the right hand Dresden Plate border, and both left and right borders are now attached to the central ‘tea table’ panel, using the pale teal with cream spot I mentioned in an earlier post.

The top and bottom edges of the tea table panel will also be bordered like this, when I get there.

Also completed, but not shown yet, are two of the Dresden Plate blocks for the top row. The other three are batched up and sandwiched with batting and backing, ready for me to start quilting them. It’s so, so much easier doing it this way. I can cut a bunch of back panels, a load of batting squares, press the fronts and sandwich them together in about the time it takes to fully quilt one block.

I haven’t yet run out of different ways to quilt each individual block. There’s only one repeat at present: the two large coffee pots have the same wavy line quilting because I feel it suits the blocks best. Everything else is different.

I quilted the second of Viv’s two dresden plate blocks yesterday, and stopped to think about her as I did so. I think they may perhaps have been the last pieces of patchwork she ever made… Unfailingly kind to the end, Viv. Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.

tea table and dresden sidesO.C.A would dearly like to have the quilt by the end of August for their September fundraiser, and I think we’re going to make it :-).

Tomorrow, I’ll finish the top Dresden Plate border.


QAYG for beginners

I’d never done QAYG until now. And now that I have, I can’t imagine why I waited so long!

Quilt As You Go is a process in which you sandwich and quilt each individual block before joining them all edge to edge, the join being covered by a narrow sashing. It produces a neat result and makes the quilting entirely manageable. I’ve been asked to do a beginner’s tutorial, from my own beginner’s point of view, so here it is.

All you need is a bit of attention to detail. There are four things that will make life a lot easier:

  • Trim all your quilted blocks to exactly the right size
  • Use a walking foot/even feed foot
  • Keep your seam allowances a consistent ¼ inch
  • Pin!

The first is achieved by making your blocks a little bit larger than the final size, and trimming out only after you’ve quilted them. The second is important because at some stages you’re sewing through 6 layers, and you need all the help you can get to stop things slipping! The third one ensures that your joins are narrow and all the same size, and will align correctly when you come to join everything up. The fourth helps you achieve the third. I’d go as far as saying that it’s critical. (I’d also say that using frugal amounts of spray baste to join the three layers before quilting has increased speed and decreased frustration by doing away with pin basting altogether. If you can tolerate the stuff, use it.)

OK, away we go.

Firstly, for each block, sandwich and ‘quilt as desired’. Bear in mind that quilting draws up and shrinks the block, especially if you quilt densely, so make sure you’ve allowed extra all round. Then trim out. You still need your ¼ inch seam allowance all round, but remember that these allowances sit edge to edge rather than being folded under, so they’re part of the total dimension of the block. If you don’t remember this, you’ll end up with a slightly larger than expected quilt. Start joining in the middle of the quilt. I did this because if things were going to slip, I wanted it to happen away from the focal centre. I really needn’t have worried, but it’s a good place to start anyway!

Blocks and joining stripsCut a 1 inch strip for the front and a 2 inch strip for the back from your joining (sashing) fabric. It can be different colours for front and back, there’s no show-through. Fold the 2 inch strip in half lengthways and press, wrong sides together.

Attaching the stripsTake one of the blocks to be joined, and lay the 1 inch strip right side down on the front, along the edge you’re joining. On the back of the block, lay the folded 2 inch strip along the same edge, with the raw edge of the folded strip towards the edge of the block. Pin, with the pins running along the seam line rather than perpendicular to it. Yes, you do need to pin to stop things shifting, but you can do it at the edge of the strip furthest from the seam, so you can whizz along the ¼ inch seam line without having to stop and take pins out.

Attaching strip to second blockNow for the second block. Lay it face to face with the previous block (if there’s a directional design, make sure it’ll be the right way up when joined), and fold up the 1 inch strip so it’s right side to right side and edge to edge with the second block. Pin again.

Stitching on second blockThis seam will be trickier to sew, as the previous seam allowance will be slightly in the way. Go slowly and carefully, making sure the 1 inch strip doesn’t pull away from the edge or you’ll have a wavy joining strip. This is where a walking foot is invaluable, because here you’re stitching through 6 layers. Done? That’s the hardest part finished 🙂

Back, seam allowance butting upFlip the two joined blocks over so they’re face down, and lay flat. If you’ve been careful, you’ll have the two seam allowances lying nice and flat, and butting up to each other. The folded 2 inch strip will be on the left, pointing away from the seam.

Covering the joinFold the flap over the join so that the fold extends just past the right hand seam, and pin across the strip, just to hold it lightly in place. Don’t haul the flap over hard, or the front strip will bulge, just fold it over gently and secure.

Stitching in the ditch, frontFlip the section back over, and pin along the right hand edge of the strip on the front. Remove the pins from the back and stitch in the ditch along the seam line on the front. You should have a sewing line which falls just under a ¼ inch from the edge of the fold on the back.

Finished join, front

I’m OK with this amount of ‘free’ flap on the back, but if you want it narrower, you need to cut your 2 inch strip a ¼ inch narrower too, and it makes it much harder to ensure you catch the edge of the flap when stitching in the ditch on the front. Alternatively, you can stitch it down by hand, which will also look a little more invisible, but that’s a lot of hand stitching, there’s a risk you might at some point slice the end knot off when trimming out so the whole thing unravels, and if you’re planning to wash the quilt a lot, machine stitching is just a bit stronger.

Finished join, back

And that’s it. Join all the rest of the blocks in the same way. Break the quilt down into sections, and join individual sections, rather than making endless long strips the full width or height of the quilt, it’ll be much easier to handle. For a quilt made of blocks the same size, it’s pretty foolproof. You can choose to have sashing that contrasts or co-ordinates, or makes its own pattern, or you can make every sashing strip different, so it forms part of the design. I’d say the process is a bit labour intensive unless your blocks are 10 inches square or more, but you may feel the extra work is worth it given the ease of quilting.

Go on, give it a try. Make 4 blocks and join them, and see if you don’t find it amazingly easy. Makes a nice table runner, too..


Time for Teal 18: playing catch-up

Now that my mojo is back, I’m going for it!

Left dresden borderAlso now finished are the four Dresden Plate border blocks on the left of the centre panel, which are joined to each other but not yet to the centre panel.

Remember I said I wanted a narrow coloured border around the table top?  I’ve chosen the pale teal with cream spot I’ve used in a few blocks, as it’s relatively ‘quiet’, and because I already have enough of it. Next time I post you’ll be able to see how that looks. Meanwhile I have to go back and get a few more metres of the pale beige small print I’ve been using for the back and the narrow sashing. There was enough to do only what you see, and as it is, I had to piece the backing for one of the blocks.

Spray basting these blocks before quilting has been a bit of a life saver. All I can say is, they’ve improved the product since the last time I tried it, and I’m also using very, very little. But it does take far less time than pin or thread basting, and means I can make rapid progress.

I also wanted to show you what the quilting looks like. For the most part it’s fairly invisible on the front, and that’s how I wanted it. The design of the blocks is too pretty to be upstaged by the quilting, even supposing I was capable of quilting that would do that! But on the plain back, you can see what’s going on. It’s like a low relief of the images on the front, and I’m loving it! Sort of a wholecloth quilt effect. I’ve boosted the shadows in the image so you can see it more clearly; the actual back is more creamy-beige than grey!

Quilting, centre and left dresden borderFor anyone who has offered to make a random teal block or two for the outermost border, I’ll be ready to start that in about a week to 10 days. I have about half the quantity I need already. If everyone is busy, though, I’ll still have time to piece the remainder myself and get them integrated into the quilt, so it’s all good.

If you do want to go for it, though, it’s a teal and cream or light beige colour-way on a 12½ inch trimmed out block, but I’d ask you please to allow extra all round to allow for the quilting ‘shrinking’ the block slightly by anything up to a quarter inch. Any design is fine except for more dresdens or tea-related blocks; the border needs to be fairly neutral to let the central part tell the story.

I’m waiting for a firm deadline for the quilt from Ovarian Cancer Australia. Once I have that, it’ll be all systems go!

SAL 32: More border, and some letters

A slight change of pace, today.


Blue sample right border

And after:

Blue borders, first letters

Having got another bit of the right border finished, I now had enough ‘frame’ to make a start on the sampler Alphabet. I could have started earlier, but I wanted to ensure that I had the exact dimensions of the space to be filled. As it is, I’ve made an executive decision. Due to the layout I’m using, I shall be omitting the letter I. It’s entirely possible that many of you wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t raised the issue, but at least this way I will avoid the more hawk-eyed among you commenting to the effect that I’d made a mistake! I still anticipate a comment or two down the track, but I’ll be able to reply that it was planned and I’d already announced it :-).

And yes, shock horror, I’m actually using a different shade of blue…

Time to go and check out all the others’ work.  Don’t forget about the difference in time zones; if you’re seeing me first, you may need to drop in to theirs a bit later to give them a chance to get their posts up. Not everyone posts every time, but there’ll still be something worth seeing there.

Avis at http://sewingbesidethesea.wordpress.com
Claire at http://claire93.wordpress.com
Gun at http://rutigt.wordpress.com
Carole at http://aslightobsessionwithbooks.wordpress.com
Wendy at http://thecraftersapprentice.blogspot.co.uk
LucyAnn at https://lucyannluna.wordpress.com
Jess at https://everthecrafter.wordpress.com
Sue at http://sewingmagpie.blogspot.com
Constanze at https://textiledreamer.wordpress.com
DebbieRose at https://sewrosey.wordpress.com
Christina at https://petalsandpins.wordpress.com
Susan at http://susanpblog.wordpress.com
Kathy at https://livinginrapidcity.wordpress.com – welcome to our new member!

Time for Teal 17: the last row, and the tea table

It’s taken me all too long to get to this point.

Row 3, T4T It has been a week for multiple tedious medical experiences, including a flight back down to Brisbane for a follow up visit to the spinal surgeon. Thankfully it’s mostly over now, but I will have to scramble a bit to catch up with all the lost time. I’m feeling heaps better than this time a week ago, so I’m hopeful.

I got the last row quilted and joined, and once I’ve joined the three rows together lengthways, the tea table centre will be finished. Next will be the Dresden Plate Border, and then when that’s done, I’ll be able to assess whether I have time to complete the final outer border before the September deadline, or whether I have to finish the quilt there.

Right, back to the sewing machine! 

Tea table, all three rows



ScrapHappy July

More scrappy loveliness this month.

Once again, it’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

Sunnies case detail

Scrappy Sunnies caseJust for a change, I haven’t made a postage stamp block!  I’ve made a case for my sun-glasses. This came about because I got fed up with losing my existing black vinyl case in the black depths of my black handbag, next to my black wallet. So I’ve gone for something totally different. Not much chance of losing this, eh? It uses some of my favourite pink scraps, including that pink paisley teeny weeny binding. I had a scrap strip 1½ inches wide, but I really wanted to use it, so I made it work! I did a bit of freehand wiggly walking-foot quilting to hold everything together. The lining is a scrap of Michael Miller Tiny Guitar Picks in navy and white, from which I’m making myself a summer top, and the batting between the two layers is also pieced scrap, from my big plastic box of batting scraps. I put two strips together and joined them with batting joining tape, which works a treat and saves sewing the pieces together.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps – no new fabrics. It can be a random or formal quilt block, a pillow or pincushion, a bag or hat, a collage or rag rug. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address shown on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. You don’t have to worry about a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at):

Usually has a scrappy post:

Gun at https://rutigt.wordpress.com (in Swedish and English)

Titti at http://tittisquiltlek.blogspot.se (in Swedish only)

Heléne at http://quiltochsom.blogspot.se (in Swedish only)

Sometimes has a scrappy post:

Eva at bambisyr-evaj.blogspot.com (in Swedish only)

Sue at sewingmagpie.blogspot.com (in English only)

Nanette at http://stitchandsow-homeandgarden.blogspot.com.au (in English only)

Lynn at https://thetialys.wordpress.com (in English only)

Norma at https://shesewsyouknow.wordpress.com (in English only)

Lynda at: https://pixilatedtoo.wordpress.com (in English only)

Birthe: http://birthesrom.blogspot.no (in Norwegian only)

Turid: http://densyendehimmel.blogspot.se (in English and Norwegian)

Cathy: http://nanacathydotcom.wordpress.com (in English only)

Jodie Zollinger: https://homesweetdreaming.com/ (in English only)

Debbierose: https://sewrosey.wordpress.com (in English only)

Claire: https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com (in English only)

See you again, same time next month!




F²F² July progress report

Good progress again this month.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 7.32.54 pmOnly halfway through July and we are only missing three sets of blocks to complete the month! Once again, I’m lagging behind, although I should be ready to send off my completed blocks later today. Sewing is getting easier; I can sit at the sewing machine for longer periods and stand for a longer time at the cutting table or ironing board. The new size of the F²F² group is easier to manage too; staying on top of who has sent what, when and to whom is much easier with only 9 participants.

I’m loving this month’s colour scheme, and there are some beautiful blocks happening over in the F²F² gallery, if you want to jump over there and take a look. A couple of people have mentioned that their cameras did not do justice to the colours this month, and I’m thinking that we will get a much better idea of how things really look once the quilts are finished… so, quite  a long way down the track, then!

From the last session, only three quilts have been completed, and very gorgeous they are too, but I know that Esther has also started hers. Go here and here to read about it and see the layout she’s working on. It’s beautiful, and the quilting is just amazing!