Monday, 16 July 2018

BLOG 404

Blog 404
There is an extra-special excuse for the late blog this weekend. The granddaughters!!


This week I have been continuing to cut my fabric up into 5” squares and sew them into half square triangles. I have now given away the remaining cotton fabrics to my local craft group so I can’t look at them anymore and feel guilty for not using them!  This has been a very cathartic process and something I have needed to do for years. The remainder of fabrics suitable for creating gardens will be donated to my Polish friends who are making backgrounds to go behind wrought iron gates. And after this massive clear-out, I will eventually be able to do what I love to do and that is work with Batiks, Bali’s and colour.

There are 5 distinct stages in the preparation of the squares for this scrap quilt. It is naturally a repetitive process and all about sitting at the sewing machine and applying onesself. If I have half an hour to fill, I can do any one of the stages as I have several pieces at every stage, a bit like a conveyor belt!

           1 Sewing 

           2 Pressing 

           3 Separating 

            4 Pressing 

             5 Squaring off 

Another long term project I have started is a small rag rug. I have created one before for a family bathroom and it still looks as good now as when I made it. Such a rug provides a warm place to stand instead of on cold bathroom tiles and all it needs is a periodic shake outside to refresh it. This one will be for an ensuite bathroom. And the reason for starting one (and there usually is a very good reason)? When I investigated my sweetie jars of batiks, I discovered masses of strips and scraps that could hardly be used for making a larger piece of work. So I am cutting them into ¾” strips by 1 ½” length. It is painstaking cutting and not for the faint-hearted but I personally get a buzz from creating something out of practically nothing. This is recycling at its best and all you need it a piece of sacking, a pointed gripping tool (I don’t know what it is called but I loaned it from a friend who’s grandmother used to used it) and fabric …. Oh and a lot of patience! No knotting is involved. One end of the strip is pulled down and up through two holes in the sacking (so that both ends are free on the topside and the backside shows a stitch). So far I have marked a grid with a dark fabric, and I am just going to fill them in with lights and darks.

              Sweetie jars 


First attempt







Sunday, 8 July 2018

BLOG 403

BLOG 403
When I feel like it, I cut a few more 5” squares to make more half-square triangles for the current scrap quilt. This exercise is really a way of getting the most out of my remaining scrap fabrics and clearing the rest out as give-aways so I can draw a line under them.  The more observant of you may have noticed that there are no florals in this quilt but perhaps you may recall that last year I made 2 quilts with my remaining floral fabrics, a crazy quilt and a corner log cabin. This particular patchwork square is very versatile and there are lots of combinations of settings, just as in the lights and darks of the log cabin design.
              Scrap squares

                More squares

             Different setting
I was saying last week that I was wondering what to tackle next, but of course there are the 279 3” quilt squares that I made for my daughter Tess, to represent her daily breast cancer ordeal from diagnosis to the finish of her treatment.

I laid them out in piles of repeated motifs near to my sewing machine, mainly to make sure that they were going to be spread equally throughout the quilt and that I wasn’t going to be left with several of the same! From these I chose 9 different squares and placed them in sequence beside my machine. Remember that these squares have been meticulously cut to size so I am able to place them accurately edge to edge in order to sew a wide zigzag across them. I have chosen several variegated threads for an interesting effect.
             Tessa’s squares

I started with 1 and 2 on the top row and sewed them together, before picking up 1 and 2 on the second row and feeding them through straight after. These were followed by 1 and 2 from row 3. On my machine foot there are some useful red marks, the centre one being in the centre of the foot. I made sure that this mark went accurately down the middle of the 2 squares.

                 Machine foot
           Continuous zigzag
When the vertical line of zigzags is completed, all the squares are joined together with thread in sequence and this helps to keep them in order. (And just as I was about to join the third square in each row, I noticed that I had placed 2 star motifs in the same 9-patch!!)

                Altered block
I joined the third square in each row in the same way to complete the vertical seams.

             Vertical seams
The squares were then rotated 90 degrees so I could zigzag each horizontal seam to complete the 9-patch block.

               Horizontal seams

I am not sure how I am going to ‘set’ them in sequence to make a quilt, but I shall keep making 9-patch blocks and adding them to my design wall while I ponder it. (To sash or not to sash ….??)

               Design wall 1

              Design wall 2





Sunday, 1 July 2018

BLOG 402

Blog 402
I can always tell when I have just finished a batch of projects because I am usually at a loss as to what to do next. I thrive and work well when there is a deadline, just as I will fritter away time when there isn’t! There is no doubt that I am happier when I am creating so what I really needed was some thinking time. I started by tidying up my studio which in turn led to painting the walls and eventually I will attack the skirting boards when I have some more gloss. Whilst tidying, I was also sorting out my ‘stuff’ and making decisions about what I wanted to keep and what I was going to get rid of.
I have been running down my stock of cotton fabrics for a long while so that I can concentrate on Batik’s and Bali’s which I love to use for their intense colours and tight weave. Many of my cottons are small remnants, scraps and strips but the pic below shows what I have decided to keep in stock after a massive cull. The remaining fabric will be offered to those who make scrap quilts using smaller pieces.

From the remaining scraps, I cut 5” squares where possible and divided them into lights and darks. As I had many more darks than lights, I added to the light pile by using the reverse of some of the dark squares. Now I have all the ingredients to make a scrap quilt top using half square triangles and the method is simple and logical. Naturally much time is spent ironing and cutting the accurate squares in the first place, but once that is done it is a case of following a system by taking logical steps.

Scrap quilt Half-square triangles

                5” squares
1 Draw a diagonal line on the WS of the light squares.

            Diagonal line
2 Place a light square onto a dark with RS together and pin to secure.

3 Set up the sewing machine with a ¼” foot and neutral thread. (I just happen to be emptying lots of spools with short lengths on them. I will put a full spool in the bobbin case and use these on the top of the machine so I can see when they are about to run out!)

4 Sew a line of stitches on one side of the marked diagonal line, ¼” away. Feed the squares one after another under the foot, allowing the teeth under the foot to catch the next pair of squares. This lets you to sew with speed and it saves thread.
               ¼” seam
5 Without separating the squares, string feed them through again to sew a ¼” seam on the other side of the marked line. Press the squares to settle the stitches

            Second ¼” seam

6 On a cutting board, use a ruler and cutter to separate the triangles along the marked line. Each sewn square will yield 2 half-square triangles.  


               2 Triangles
7 Pile the triangles with dark uppermost on the ironing board. Lift the tip of the dark triangle as you run the iron across the light triangle to the seam, thus making sure all the seams go from light to dark. This simple method produces the building blocks for this cheerful scrap quilt. More next week.

               Darks uppermost

             Press open

              Building blocks
We had a rare treat on Friday when the Red Arrows landed with panache at our local airport in Hawarden. They were staying there over-night before taking part in various flying displays locally. I like the way the pilots look as though they are caged; perhaps it was for their own safety!! !!! Yum!

         Red Arrows
             Caged pilots

Sunday, 24 June 2018

BLOG 401

BLOG 401
This week I have chosen a personal selection of favourites from the Gresford show. The church was absolutely full of crafts of all description; this is what makes it such an interesting event. There is something for everyone. Next week I will hopefully be able to tell you how many people attended and what sort of money we raised for charity. Enjoy!
                 Embroidered cushions

           Quilt for Tess



             Teddy bears’ picnic

          Crochet dogs

            Quilts and clothes





             Miniature teaset


            Exquisite beading

          Quilting: Guest quilter Sandra Weir

         Quilting: Guest quilter Sandra Weir

           Cake making



      Challenge: ‘Under ground’

          Challenge: ‘Under ground’ (sink hole)

          Beloved toys

         Quilt (won in a raffle)

          Tessilated quilt


         Cross stitch


        Fall of poppies ‘We will remember them’
And finally, I walked/ran in the ‘Pretty Muddy’ 5k at Tatton Park again yesterday for cancer research. It was a lovely day for it, sunny and bright, but the organisers made an extra special effort to make sure that there was as much wet mud as possible throughout the obstacle course! Here’s my daughter in the middle, with me on the right and Jackie (the sharer of the grandchildren) on the left. When I have collected in all my sponsorship money, I will let you know how much we have raised as a group of 8, but many thanks for all those who have donated; you are all very generous.
 Pretty Muddy 2018