Tuesday, 28 May 2013

BLOG 150

Apologies for the late posting of my blog this week; circumstances beyond our control! Our phone has been faulty intermittently for 3 weeks now and it has been off completely for a good 9 days. This has meant that we cannot be contacted by people except through mobile phones and, as we don’t freely give out our mobile numbers, it has meant that nobody has been able to contact us during this time. It hasn’t bothered us too much as we have been away, but you do start to wonder if you are missing out on vital messages on the computer, and you are unable to access the information that it usually at your fingertips. I’m sure it will get sorted soon.
Another milestone posting! 150 weeks of talking about my quilting endeavours and I didn’t really think it would go on for so long! But after thinking about it, I now realise that I use the blog to keep me quilting and I quilt to keep my blog going. So it is a symbiotic relationship. And again I feel the need to mention that I have only 30 registered followers after all this time. I know there are loads more of you out there because you tell me so when we meet up so make my week by becoming a follower. It is easy (so I am told) and it costs you nothing but it will make me feel less like a ‘Dilly-no mates’. (Welcome aboard Fiona: tell me how you did it so I can tell others!)

This week I have been getting on with the remaining blocks for my scrap diamonds string quilt which I think I will call ‘A String of Diamonds’ thus acknowledging the string piecing method and the resulting shape formation. My thought was that if I could get the quilt top finished by the Bank Holiday WE, I would try to finish it for the Gresford Exhibition in June, or even put it in as a work in progress. 14 more blocks in both light and dark were required, more motorway sewing! Once I had finished and trimmed them, I sat in front of the TV and removed the papers into a fabric bag. It was all too tempting for Chivers who immediately climbed in, sorted the papers out to his satisfaction and settled down for the night …. and for ever after if his behaviour is anything to go by!


 Ella’s scrap quilt top also needs finishing for the same exhibition so I have a busy three weeks ahead of me! An understatement!!


                            Ella’s Quilt

 To prepare the border strips I needed to measure both the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the quilt. I did this on my design wall and I measured through the centre of the quilt, not round the outer edges which can stretch after energetic pressing; this is the best advice I can offer for preventing wavy borders. The horizontal measurement is 47 ½” and the vertical 70” and these are the true measurements.





I cut the top and bottom horizontal borders at 1 ½” x 47 ½” and they were pinned in place, RS together, at the centre and corners first. I then made the quilt top fit the border by pinning securely and easing in any fullness. To get the lengths I required, I needed to join my strips together. I did this by placing two strips RS together, at right angles to one another. (It sometimes helps to draw a line from edge to edge.)


                                       Diagonal join

 I sewed on the line and trimmed away any extra fabric to leave a small seam allowance.

                                         Sew and trim

 I pressed the seam open.



After adding the horizontal borders, the 70” vertical seams needed extra length to take these borders into account: 70” + 1 ¼” + 1 ¼” = 72 ½”. These were cut accurately and added to the quilt top in the same way to complete the first round of borders. What next I am thinking?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

BLOG 149

During the last 3 weeks, I have continued to create diamond blocks, enjoying the process of slamming fabric under the needle and sewing at motorway speed. It has been a relatively mindless process thus allowing me to think thoughts (usually rubbish) or to listen to the radio or to just sew. The process of string piecing as it is called, certainly hasn’t been hard with no seams to match and random fabrics used. Now I’m not a numbers person really and the last thing I would be caught doing is to count how many pieces of fabric are in a quilt or how many miles of thread I have sewn. This doesn’t interest me and, if I knew this information in advance, I would probably never start a quilt. Suffice it to say that it took me about 1 hour to create a diamond block.

I am going to start to sew the blocks together now to make the rows and then join the rows to create the quilt top. I need to see what it is going to look like, how big it needs to be and whether I am going to add a border.

The horizontal seams that were sewn onto paper and ironed as I went along are well established. Remember that I am a ‘butter-upper’ of seams and so I will contrive to make the seams that join the blocks together go the way I want them to go.


Join one diamond to another diamond, paying special attention to the corners of the diamonds. (Don’t you love to robin peeping from the fabric!)


                            Diamond to diamond

  Join four diamonds together to make a horizontal row and press them lightly on the WS.


                                       Press on the WS

When seen on the WS, all seams should lie flat and tidily.

                                    WS seam allowances

Every time you add another block, check to see that there are no duplicated fabrics next door to one another.

                                                       2 rows

Having joined 5 rows of 4 diamonds together, I decided to put it on a single bed to check for length only to discover that it was way too long!



                          Trial fitting


I like the effect of it very much though and was anxious to try it on the bed it is destined for. This again confirmed that it was too long and so some reverse sewing … or unpicking by any other name … followed.



                          Double bed

That’s the stage it is at the moment and I have put it to one side until I get back from Barcelona. We are just having 3 nights away to enjoy a city break.  Can’t wait!


Sunday, 12 May 2013

BLOG 148


It is better to build up a few light and dark panels before attempting to join them together. This allows your range of fabrics to spread throughout the quilt giving a ‘random’ appearance which is vitally important for a scrap quilt.


1 The main reason for sewing onto paper is to create an accurate block every time so before the paper is removed, the blocks need to be trimmed to the edge of the paper with rotary cutter and ruler.

                          Trim the panels


                                           Trimmed panels

 2 Remove the paper from the back. This will be easy if your stitch has been small enough to puncture the paper without tearing it. I usually tug gently on the upper and lower edges and the paper almost falls off.


                                      Remove the paper
 3 Use a ruler and rotary cutter to cut on the diagonal of one light and one dark panel. Cut the line cleanly and accurately from top left to bottom right.


                Cut on one of the diagonals


                                   Cut 1 dark and 1 light

 4 Repeat the process and cut one light and one dark on the other diagonal, from top right to bottom left.

Cut on the other diagonal



                                   Cut 1 dark and 1 light

 5 Position the eight triangles in sequence to create a diamond block, double-checking that there are no repeat fabrics adjacent to one another.


                       8 triangles create a diamond

6 Place two triangles RS together, so that the raw edges of the diagonal seams are level. Rather than put the two points exactly together, allow the sharpest point to extend a good ¼” beyond the gentler point. Sew an accurate ¼” seam.



                             Extend the sharpest point


7 Sew the four diagonals to each create a rectangle that is one quarter of the design and place them back into sequence. Do not press at this stage.

                     Sew the 4 diagonals

 8 Place two adjacent rectangles, one on top of the other, with RS together. Finger-press the top seam to the left and the underneath seam to the right. Butt the seams up to one another and pin where they meet. Sew the vertical seam with an accurate ¼” seam allowance to create half the diamond. Check to make sure that there is a good ¼” of fabric beyond the tips of the diamonds (this is the seam allowance for joining the diamonds together later).


                                        Butt the seams together


                                     Accurate seam RS


                                          Accurate seam WS

Repeat this process for the lower half of the diamond to complete the block.

9 After checking the direction of the diagonal seams butt the seams together and sew across the middle horizontal seam to complete the diamond.

And these are the building blocks for a diamond string quilt.


                                     Completed block

Sunday, 5 May 2013

BLOG 147

Happy Bank Holiday weekend to those for whom it applies! Us Retirees have to stop retiring on Friday in order to appreciate and enjoy the fact that it is a holiday weekend! As it includes Monday too, we will recommence our retiring again on Tuesday.

1 Place and pin strip 1, RS up, on the sheet of A4 paper. Make sure that it is slightly wider than the paper and that the top edge lies level with the top of the paper.


                                      Strip 1

2 Place strip 2, RS down, onto strip 1 with the raw edges together. Pin to keep the strips together.

                                     Strip 2

3 Use an accurate ¼” seam allowance to sew through the 2 layers of fabric and the paper.
(You will notice that I am sewing this first seam with the bulk of the fabric to my right. This is because it easier to get under my sewing machine with the paper to my left. My ¼” foot measures the same on both sides.)


                            ¼” seam allowance

4 In order to save thread, sew 2 panels in sequence. (You can do more if you want to but it can get quite congested on the other side of your sewing plate.)

                           Saving thread

 5 After sewing the 2 panels, sew over a thread-saver strip before cutting the threads to release the panels.

                                        Successive panels

6 On an ironing pad, press the seam first to settle the stitches and then flip strip 2 over so that the RS is visible. Press it into sequence.


                                     Sew, flip and press

 7 Continue to add strips, making sure that you vary the width of the strips and that you don’t repeat any fabrics.


                                              In progress

8 You don’t have to pin after the first strip. Control the strips with your left hand and guide the paper with the right. The paper will be inclined to slip on the sewing plate but the lines on the paper are great for keeping the strips straight. Put your foot down and sew!


               Controlling the seam

 9 Continue this ‘sew, flip and press’ method until both the sheets of paper are covered. Give the panels a final press and put them to one side until several more have been completed.


                                   Final press