Stay+: 3 more seams to go

As well as the top two, I’ve now got the two bottom corners done.

stay-corners-completeNow I just have to join the top two corners together, then the bottom two, and finally, the two completed sides using the only full-length seam. I’ve also managed to buy the fabric I need for the binding, more of the same dark teal shot cotton I used in the centre +.

But I did have one small problem to (ahem) iron out… I have a cordless steam iron. I love it, but it’s not terribly well made or robust. I’m on my third version, the previous two having given up the ghost. There are advantages and disadvantages to cordless. You can take it to the far end of the ironing board (or the other side of the room), and turn it through 360° and there’s no cord to jerk you up short or get tangled. However, it only stays at full heat for about a minute, and then it starts to cool down, so getting a lot of pressing done in one go is tedious: press, press, return to base station, wait, wait, press, press, etc. It takes about 30 seconds to reheat, which isn’t much in the great scheme of things but is just long enough to be annoying. And now, the third cordless iron has definitively announced its retirement. It tripped the household power outlet fuse in the fuse box outside three times in succession, which required restarting all sorts of  electronic gadgetry… again and again. I can take a hint.

So it’s bye-bye cordless iron, hello the old faithful steam iron with a huge water reservoir and a 2.5 metre cord. I’m not too unhappy, it’ll press anything forever without needing to reheat or be refilled constantly. What I’d really love, though, is an Oliso Pro TG16 iron. Ultra smooth, extra thick heat-retaining sole plate, clever ‘foot’ that raises the iron off the ironing surface when not in use and prevents scorching as well as the need to perch the thing on end, lots of steam settings and a 3.7 metre (12 ft) cord with a 360° swivelling attachment to the iron, to name but a few advantages.  But at prices between $170 and $200 in Australia, it’ll have to wait…

So, I reckon Stay+ will be fully assembled by the end of the week, with luck I’ll get it bound over next weekend, and then, as promised, it’ll be done by Christmas!


Stay+: bringing it all together

After my recent QAYG post, it was time to put the process to work.

The Stayquilt is 5 blocks across and 5 down, so I divided it into uneven halves:

  • One ‘corner’ of 2 x 2 at top left, one ‘corner’ of 3 x 2 at top right
  • One ‘corner’ of  2 x 3 at bottom left and one ‘corner’ of 3 x 3 at bottom right.

Then I got cracking. I cut a whole bunch (that’s a technical term, if you’re a quilter) of 1 inch strips for the fronts, and 1¾ inch strips for the backs. The back strips were pressed in half lengthways. For the purpose of the first half of this assembly, none of the strips required joining, as I’d cut the strips across the width of the fabric, which was sufficiently long. The fabric is 42 inches wide, and I can get three joining sections out of each width for my 12½ inch blocks, or one long joining strip for the 3×2 or 3×3 sections.

If you’re interested in how it all goes together by this Quilt As You Go process, you can find the detail in my earlier tutorial on the subject, here. Since I wrote it, I’ve reduced the width of strip I cut for the back from 2 inches to 1¾ inch; I’ve got better at doing it, and I don’t need such a generous overlap on the back to ensure I catch it with my stitching on the front.

Here, you see the two top ‘corners’ completed but not yet joined:


Top left corner


Top right corner

Lynn of Tialys is also working away at her slightly larger quilt, which is 5 x 6 blocks in format. She’s working on other things, and is also a bit unwell, so she’s made great progress considering, don’t you think?

lynn-lhs-sectionsI do love her colour scheme. Her husband is getting this quilt for Christmas, and I think he’s a very lucky bloke…

I’ll have Stay+ assembled in a couple of days if I can keep up the momentum. Then it’s time for the binding, one of my favourite parts!

QAYG: breaking it down

Sometimes you have to look past the logical solution.

QAYG (quilt as you go) is a clever, tidy and relatively painless way of sandwiching and quilting your blocks before you assemble the quilt. For those of us quilting on a domestic sewing machine, this is a great way of avoiding the shoulder-pain of hauling a huge piece of quilting through the narrow throats of our machines.

However, once the quilting’s done, you’ve got to attach all the pieces to each other. Logically, you’d join it up row by row. After all, that’s how you’d do it if you were simply sewing the blocks together before quilting conventionally, isn’t it? Trouble is, you end up with at least 4 or 5 very long seams where you’re wrestling many, many layers together into quarter inch seam allowances. Things can wobble and gape, sewing lines can go wonky, and the pin sticks alone can lead to insanity.

I’ve come up with a way of reducing the number of very long seams you have to sew to only 1. Better, yes? I don’t claim it’s original, but I know it works for me, and I haven’t see it documented anywhere else.

qayg-assemblyIt’s as simple as this:

If your quilt’s an even number of squares (eg: 6×6 or 8×8), divide in half horizontally and vertically.  Make up a square of blocks for each corner, join the two top and two bottom sections, and then you only have one long seam across the middle.

If your quilt’s an uneven number (eg: 5×5 or 7×7), offset the horizontal and vertical divides, but proceed the same way. One side will be squares, the other rectangles. Proceed as above. If your blocks are smaller and there are more of them, you can afford to create sections which are 4 or 5 blocks long/deep, as the seams will still be shorter and the sections more manageable.

Joining sections which are only 2 or 3 blocks deep is much, much easier and more pleasant. You’re not hauling the bulk of what you’ve already joined around every time. Only one really long strip. Works for me!

Lynn at Tialys and I both have a quilt to assemble by this process. Mine’s 5×5 and hers is 5×6. We’ve both done it the hard way, row by row; now I want to see whether she finds it easier this way too. Starting this weekend, we’ll be working together (if 18,000kms apart), as we both want our quilts finished by Christmas.

Stay tuned – I’ll be taking photos as I go to try and clarify my scruffy little drawings.

Stay+ part 3: another line completed

One more row to go, and then the assembly can start.

This is where we were last time:


And this is now:


One more row to go, and I’ve done all the prep. So now I just have to quilt all 5 blocks, and then I can start joining everything together.

I must go and buy some fabric to cut the joining strips. They’ll be the same cream fabric to match the backing, and give the individual blocks some separation on the front.

And somehow, I’ve worked through another kilometre/a little over half a mile of cream thread…

Another big push, and then it’ll be time for all these lovely blocks to become a quilt 🙂

TWX1: Gearing up for xxs

In a month or two, it’ll be time for a new Ovarian Cancer Quilt.

For those not yet in the know, I make quilts for Ovarian Cancer Australia, to be auctioned at their fundraising events to raise money for research into this silent killer. It’s a chronically under-funded cause, so I’m delighted to help. I’m slowly plugging along on the current version, Stay+ (positive), quilting a square here and there as time allows. Today, there was no time at all, but it’s not a huge quilt and it will be done soon.

Which will leave me free to start Tealed with a Kiss (TWX). Yesterday morning I received a squishy parcel. Huge excitement! Not only did it contain three F²F² blocks from Sue (which you can see in the gallery), but also four wonderful blocks for TWX. Aren’t they lovely?

sue-bowtie-x sue-4patch-x sue-big-bordered-heart sue-4-small-hearts

The hearts will go along the bottom edge, together with the Ovarian Cancer ribbon block I try to include on all the quilts I make for them. The rest of the quilt will consist of blocks featuring an X in some form or other, whether formal or improv, positive or negative, little or large. As always, the blocks will finish at 12 inches square, or 12½ inches unfinished.

If you’re a quilter and you’d like to contribute a block for this quilt, do let me know in the Comments section, or email me at the address you’ll find on my Contact Me page. Each contributor is credited on the finished quilt’s label. The colour scheme is any shade of teal, from light to dark, on a cream to beige background. I lay out, quilt and assemble the blocks, using the QAYG process.

I’ll be away over the weekend, travelling, so please excuse me if you contact me and don’t get an immediate response. We’ll be passing through quite a few WiFi blackspots!



Stay+ part 1: top line quilted

Now that the camping trip is fully tidied away and we’ve got our tax return sorted, I’ve been able to start sewing again.

Before I went away, I organised all the blocks for the Ovarian Cancer Stay+ quilt. In a couple of free hours over the last couple of days, I got the top row sandwiched and quilted. I’d have carried on, but I need to cut more batting squares and my worktable was covered with scraps (a story for ScrapHappy day!), so I left it there for now. There are 5 rows of 5 blocks, so I’m thinking I’ll be able to get this done fairly quickly.

stay-line-1-quiltedOriginally, I’d thought of quilting each one with a + sign, but there are blocks where that design simply won’t work, so I’m working on the principle that whatever occurs to me when I start is what the block is getting! The blocks in the 4 corners will probably get + signs, and I think the big dark teal + sign formed by the central horizontal and vertical blocks will get wiggly lines. Apart from that, I will review the size of the block and tailor the quilting to that, since some are the right size and some are a little scant.

And I’m sewing a little slower than usual because I have a sore elbow. Imagine you banged your funny bone, and it carried on hurting and tingling; it’s like that, but my nice doctor says it’ll go away in its own time, once the nerve recovers.

Hope I don’t run out of quilting design ideas before I run out of blocks… 🙂

Accentuate the postive…

You gotta accentuate the positive, they say. Lots of people have said it in lots of ways, but this is my favourite version, and a bit of a leitmotif for my life 🙂

Positive signSo I did. Accentuate it, that is. The positive sign for Stay+ is done. When I’ve finished some secret F2F2 sewing this week, I’ll do a little more work on ScrapHappy, and then get cracking with Stay+. I’m having a busy week, so there hasn’t been a huge amount of free time to sew, but I’m happy to report that I have in fact emptied one whole shoebox of scraps…

OffcutsThe leftovers from trimming out ScrapHappy. I don’t believe even the most frugal would find anything useful in that little lot, so they truly don’t count as scraps any longer!

We’re away down south on Miss Scarlett for the weekend to visit some motorbiking friends. I need to get the pannier bags out and start the packing, assemble the wet weather gear we hopefully won’t need, and bake some visitor-gifts.

Right, back to the kitchen. Two date and gingerbread loaves, some peanut butter cookies and an apple cinnamon upside down cake in the oven to be watched.