ScrapHappy November

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

And here it is, my latest scrappy project, currently imaginatively called Big Hexies (needs work, I know!). You may have seen the post earlier this month on my first batch of hexie flowers. Here’s the next lot!


This isn’t the final arrangement, by any means, just a layout to show what I’ve got finished since my last Big Hexies post.

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 (in Swedish and English)

Titti at (in Swedish only)

Heléne at (in Swedish only)

Sometimes has a scrappy post:

Eva at (in Swedish only)

Sue at (in English only)

Nanette at (in English only)

Lynn at (in English only)

Norma at (in English only)

Lynda at: (in English only)

Birthe: (in Norwegian only)

Turid: (in English and Norwegian)

Cathy: (in English only)

Debbierose: (in English only)

Tracy: (in English only)

Jill: (in English only)

Claire: (in English only)

Susan: (in English only)

See you again, same time next month!

Big Hexies!

It was time for several ideas to come together.

I needed a new scrappy project. I needed a handwork project. I needed… something different. And here it is. Those who’ve followed me for a while know that I love hexies and the peaceful hand stitching that goes with them. As well as the weeny scraps I chewed up making the Grey Nomad quilt, I’ve got a good range of larger ones. So I dug a bunch of them out, using bright and muted prints in a variety of sizes. I paired all of these with black for the flower centres, and a white with medium black spot for the intervening spaces. A substantial bunch of scraps went on our camping trip with us, and a substantial bunch of hexie flowers came back, but since then, the quantity has exploded because I’m enjoying this new project so much!


The papers are 2 inches to a side, so the flowers are a good size and the stack is growing fast. I also love that the size of each hexie lets me feature the fabrics beautifully. Each flower takes one piece of black and then a scrap rectangle 10 x 14 inches, cut into 6 equal pieces. In some, I’ve mixed up the fabrics, in others, kept each petal the same. For each hexie, I cut a piece 4.5 x 5 inches, and then simply fold and stitch it around the paper, rather than cutting it to shape. Whether I trim it out afterwards depends on the weight of the fabric. For lawn or voile, I don’t bother. For heavier weights, I will. This process has worked very well for me on all the hexie quilts I’ve done before, and saves a huge amount of time, since I can whack out all the pieces very quickly with a ruler and rotary cutter.

This is just a taster; already I actually have twice the number you see here, but you’ll have to wait for ScrapHappy day on 15th of the month to see more 🙂

Cosmatesque # 4: the next ring

The central circle is now appliquéd onto its light background ring, ready for the next stage.

Outer ring segment

Lower left quarter coloursOuter ring piecesThis is the beginning of the second, outer ring. It feels as if it’s going to take forever… A small exaggeration, but there’s a lot of very small bits there. The large triangles alternate dark umber and slate, the small triangles alternate charcoal and golden amber, separated by a zigzag of limestone. Fiddly in the extreme, especially the zigzag, which has to be made up of two pieces. I considered making large limestone triangles and then appliquéing everything else to them, but it wasn’t successful; the fabric was too floppy to get nice straight lines, so I’ve persisted with the EPP method, which has the virtue of producing completely consistent shapes so long as you’re meticulous in how you sew the bits together.

There was some useful learning from the first circle:

•  When making the triangles, fold down and stitch the edge which will be on the outside last. This means that all the excess will be pointing away from the outside edge.
•  Press everything away from what will be the inner and outer edges.
•  Trim seam allowances down as much as possible before joining the shapes, especially on corners
•  Don’t stress if things don’t line up exactly. You can always unpick a bit of basting and ease out some of the seam allowance to make things line up.
•  Do not press pieces basted with polyester thread too hot. You will melt the thread onto the fabric. Don’t ask how I know this, it’s a sore subject 😦

Sore enough, in fact, that it has meant I had to replace my iron. It has seen a lot of action, spent hundreds of long, long hours switched on, and was now regularly overheating, leaking boiling hot water onto my feet, tripping the household power socket fuse (entailing tedious trips down two flights of stairs and outside to the power board) and showing clear signs of corrosion on the charging pins (it was a cordless version, and had to be returned to the stand to reheat after every use). However, since I bought it on special offer about three years ago when it was on sale at one third of the normal price, I had bought two. Out with the old, in with the new. I must admit it feels a bit safer now, and I’m not missing the smell of burning insulation or the scalded feet….

In a recent post, Esther over at ipatchandquilt used a fantastic craquelure print on a block she was making for one of the F2F members.  I saw it and immediately knew it would be perfect for this project, so she’s very kindly sending me half a metre when it’s my turn to receive my F2F blocks in May.  I’m just waiting to hear if there’s anything I can make or do for her in return…

Once this big ring is done, that’s the end of the most fiddly EPP part of this piece. There are other rings, but they’re much simpler.  Soon, I’ll be able to move on to FPP, and progress will be much faster.

But first, back to lots and lots of tiny stitches!


Cosmatesque #3

Circles within circles, wheels within wheels…

Central circle

Lower left quarter colours Templates copied onto card Inner circle templatesThe central circle is assembled. The shapes (apart from the white triangles) were a bit small and fiddly, and every single one had a curved edge some-where, but I got better at lining things up as I went along. The trickiest bits were joining the amber triangle to the blue triangle above it, since I was joining two curves, but I discovered how best to get it done and the joins are tidy. Actually, the worst part was ensuring that the inner curve of the ring where it joins the red fabric was smooth, and as you can see, I wasn’t totally successful… Since I took that photo, I’ve actually gone back and improved the curve by unpicking and restitching a small section.

I’ve robbed some fabrics from my Steampunk collection, which is seriously stalled in any case. There are some great textured and marbled fabrics in there, perfect for this application, so I feel justified.

Next, I have to add a white ring to the outside of this. The ring after that will be a bit more laborious – there are all those small straight pieces which form the zigzag between the triangles. But they’re simple, and it makes good TV watching handwork. I can make use of time when my hands would otherwise be idle. The colours are limestone, slate, charcoal, dark umber and golden amber again. The four final corner pieces will be dark cobalt and dark red.

And I’ll be trying very, very hard not to keep hearing ‘The Windmills of Your Mind’ in my head while I work…

Cosmatesque #2

The first quarter template…

Cosmatesque final planThere’s no point attempting to draft the template for this piece all in one go; it’s 48 inches square and I simply don’t have a flat surface that size (apart from the floor, and I’m not up to grovelling around down there any more). So I’ve divided it into 24 inch square quarters, which still fit on my cutting table. Luckily the design divides neatly into equal quarters, so I just need to make each one and then piece them together. “Just…”, she says airily, as though it were the work of moments.

Extension arm compassI decided to start with the most difficult section first. With that out of the way, the rest of the sections will seem much easier. So it’s the bottom left hand corner, a series of concentric rings with inset triangles. I have a set of good compasses, from small to large, with an extension arm. Just as well, really – do you have any idea how tricky it is to draw an accurate 20 inch circle, even with an extension arm on the compass?  The thing just wobbles, spreads, dislodges and generally misbehaves. But the template’s done. The next thing will be to make a tracing or duplicate of each ring, which I’ll then mount on cartridge paper and cut out to make the papers for EPP (English Paper Piecing*) the triangles.

At least, that’s the plan for now. I’m still wondering if I can do it with FPP (Foundation Paper Piecing†), but just now I’m tending against it, because of the trickiness of matching up all the pieced segments. You can adjust a little with EPP, but over a piece this size, FPP errors tend to magnify.

Explanation of terms for non-quilters, including the quilt’s new owner:

*EPP: fabric is wrapped around a card template and basted/tacked on. The covered templates are then joined edge to edge with tiny hand stitching through the fabric only, and once fully assembled, the basting/tacking is pulled out and the templates removed. This is the process used for traditional hexagon quilts.

†FPP: fabric is stitched directly onto a paper foundation, along drawn or printed lines. This ensures a lot of accuracy of individual pieces, but this shape has to be made up of many sections, and joining these sections can be a little inaccurate (when I do it, anyway!), so that points do not meet and things slip a little. The paper is torn away from the back of the piece once it is fully assembled, which is a laborious job in itself.

I need to start auditioning fabrics now, as very soon I’ll be able to make a start on assembly. I need a good tone-on-tone white. Flat, solid white will not look right, it needs a texture. If I could get a marbled white that would be ideal, but I’ve never seen such a thing (if anyone out there has, let me know asap, please?), and a tone-on-tone print will be the next best thing. I also need a warm deep red, a dark cobalt blue, a granite grey and a limestone beige, all marbled or textured batiks. And if anything else catches my eye, I’ll grab a bit of that too. This quilt won’t need large quantities of anything except the background white, I just need to be careful I don’t run out of any of the fabrics with one triangle to go!

Time to put away the ruler and compasses for a bit, and fetch out the scissors, needle and thread.


ScrapHappy July

It’s been a busy few days, and I missed yesterday’s deadline by just an hour or so.

As I posted yesterday,  awhile ago, Gun from Rutigt and I agreed that we’d each post a scrappy block on the 15th of the month, the aim to be not only to eat up our scraps, but also to be a regular reminder that scrap-eating had to happen regularly if we are both not to be eventually overwhelmed by our tiny treasures. The block can be any size, shape, colour or design. And here is mine. Finally…


It’s very random, not much of a colour theme happening. I just reached into a box of hexies, grabbed a handful and worked out where they would go. I concede that I’m cheating a little. The individual hexies used in this block have been sitting around a while – since before Worldwide Friends, to be exact. But they are all made from scraps, and making a block from them does use scraps up, so I think you’d have to be a bit of a purist to object!

And as you know by now, I ran out of time – it’s the time of year when I have my annual ‘has the cancer come back?’ checkup, and the amount of sitting around in waiting-rooms I’ve had to do in the last few days is phenomenal. And it’s not over yet, there’s another one next week… So, whole hours I could have spent concocting something lavish have instead been spent reading waiting-room magazines and playing sudoku on my phone. Frustrating… particularly when I realised I hadn’t brought any hand work!

Yesterday’s baking session also went totally pear-shaped. I was melting chocolate in the microwave, carefully, 30 seconds at a time, but still managed to not just burn it, but have it virtually catch alight, cracking the bowl I was using in the process and filling the kitchen with acrid smoke. That was the crowning moment, but the rest of it wasn’t exactly glorious, either.

So, I’ll see you again next month with another scrappy block. If you want to join us, let either me or Gun know, and we’ll link to your blog in ours, as shown below.

ScrapHappy July:
Gun at Rutigt
Kate at talltalesfromchiconia
Sue at From the Magpie’s Nest

Worldwide Friends: Crossing the final frontier

It’s done. Which is good, because I’m so ready for something new.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 11.08.32 am

The only straight shot that was usable on the windiest day this year!

It’s taken almost exactly seven months (a few days under – I started it on 10th November last year). It began as a piece of busy-work to keep my hands occupied and my mind peaceful when I went into hospital last year for a spot of surgery. It’s grown out of all recognition, well beyond my original idea for the piece, and has taken on a life of its own, becoming virtually common property amongst the worldwide friends who have contributed fabric, poetry, encouragement and vision. The Mackay Show deadline seemed like a good idea at the time, something so far away that it was easily achievable. But as always, time ran away with me and I’ve only just squeaked in, after subjecting myself to the sort of pressure I don’t really enjoy.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 11.09.00 amDon’t ask me how many hexies it contains, because I don’t know, and I’m not going to count them. In any case, the answer to that question is “enough”. Here’s some detail:

This quilt is the result of a collaboration between myself and blogging friends around the world. The design was triggered by Carla’s gift of an indigo furoshiki, or gift-wrapping cloth from Japan, which featured rabbits, waves and the moon. According to Japanese legend, the figure seen in the full moon is not a man, but a rabbit, who was placed there by a holy man in return for an act of kindness. This beautiful cloth gave the rest of the quilt its Japanese flavour and the name of the quilt is written in Kanji characters across the middle, which translates to Worldwide Friends. On the back are haiku in English about both quilt-making and the rabbit legend, some written by fabric donors, others by non-quilting friends in lieu of fabric. Many of the indigo fabrics are Japanese, others are from Indonesia, India and Africa as well as Europe, the US and Australia.

Techniques used
Front: English Paper Piecing, hand appliqué
Back: Machine piecing, English Paper Piecing, hand appliqué
Hand painted calligraphy on front in gold resist medium
Handwritten calligraphy of haiku on back panels in ink
Lightly hand quilted in ‘big stitch’ quilting to stabilise layers only
The quilt is faced with hexagons on the reverse rather than bound, to retain the hexagon shapes at the edge.
Hanging tabs are integrated into the top seam, as this is a wall hanging
The quilt is effectively double-sided, allowing it to be turned to display the haiku on the reverse.

The Worldwide Friends:
Carla, Australia
Tracey, Australia
Nanette, Australia
Dale, Australia
Rita, Belgium
Jan, Wales
Lynn, France
Viv, France
Gun, Sweden
Cath, USA
Sue, USA
Esther, Netherlands
Emmely, Netherlands
Jule, Germany
Annett, Germany
Carole, UK
Kirsten, UK

This quilt is now, at last, ready for entry into the Mackay Show on 25 June, and I am so ready to start another project!  My first priority is to produce the three blocks I’m making each month as part of the Foot2Freestyle block swap. After that, I have a birthday quilt to make for mid-October, a large bed quilt to make for my niece to celebrate her marriage (already late, but she forgives me), and then, finally, I’m free to choose. The list of candidates is considerable…

But first, a day off… maybe.