Sunday, 27 March 2016

BLOG 293

BLOG 293

I have continued to be enthralled by the Sizix machine (thanks for the loan Jackie!) and here is an update of what the half-square triangles look like on my design wall. The potential quilt is bright and cheerful and it is a pleasure to be working on it. And it is at this stage that I mention again that you can’t beat a camera lens for adding distance to your work and offering an objective view of your work. I thought the pattern was balanced until I saw this picture below. Not so!


 So it was again a case of one Sizix machine and many more fabrics to prepare more squares.

               Ready to sew

 Those extra squares allowed me to balance the centre and add another round. Not quite sure if I will add more fabrics to this or just border it and make it into a lap quilt. I certainly like what I see.

                Balanced centre

Question: what do you do with a lovely strip of dyed fabric? I didn’t dye it myself but bought it and have been waiting for inspiration to hit.

                 Dyed fabric


Answer: What you do is bring up the textiles of Carol Ann Waugh on Google images. They are just lovely and are made with all those varied stitches on your sewing machine that rarely get used. It is an excellent opportunity to do some ‘motorway driving’ on your machine, giving it a good blow-out! I drew wavy and straight lines along the width of the fabric, added a stabilising layer and just started to sew. I used decorative stitches and occasionally couched some yarn. This is a joy to do; just try it!

                First steps


             Bashing on


Sunday, 20 March 2016

BLOG 292

Blog 292
And now for the triangles. Whilst trawling through goodness knows whose blog a while ago, I saw a pile of triangles whch she said that she had cut the previous evening with her Sizix machine. There followed a comprehensive Google search by me to find out what that was! And just to illustrate the hand of fate, I was at Llangollen a few days later and I saw this machine on the table being used to cut out paper templates for the English paper method of patchworking. I talked about the machine with the owner who invited me to bring over some fabrics to try it out. This I did and was very impressed with the fact that I could cut out 6/8 layers of fabric at once. This encouraged me to delve further. I priced them (not cheap) and priced the cutting forms (expensive outlay for just one form) and continued to mull over whether I would really get the use out of one or not. A week later, I was at Llangollen talking about it again and a family member (we share the same grand children) said she had one and I could borrow it! So this is it.

                                      The machine and form


And a short training course later and I too am cutting our piles of triangles! It couldn’t be easier.

              8 layers


                Cut fabric

               Removing off-cuts

               16 triangles

               More triangles

                String piecing


I fancied working with triangles because I once made a 2-colour quilt which now drapes over a rocking chair in my kitchen. Red was my dark colour and yellow was my light colour. I used as many reds as possible from maroon through scarlet to pinks and the same with the yellow from orange through gold to lemon. It remains a firm favourite. So now that I am armed with the right tools for the job, I feel another quilt … or two … coming on! (You would think that I had discovered gold wouldn’t you? These machine have been around for ages but I have just become aware of their potential. Better late than never is what I say!)

                2-colour quilt

I started to cut bright colours for starters because I couldn’t resist having a go on the machine. I will need to build up a good stock of lights and darks before I start to construct a quilt but, in the meantime, I have started to play with ideas on my design wall.

                  Design wall

Sunday, 13 March 2016

BLOG 291

BLOG 291
Construction is well underway on the Whirligig Quilt. I joined block to block to make a row, pinning them together straight from the design wall. And as a straight edge goes against a seamed edge, it went together easily and quickly. I pinned first remembering that there is always a matching pair of squares side by side.

            Pinning blocks

 Once the centre was constructed, it was ironed thoroughly on the ironing board. This was done by ‘plonk pressing’ as I call it, a technical term for lift and press ironing. If you try to drag the iron across seams going in different directions, they will lift and distort. Plonk pressing is the way to go!

               Plonk pressing

 I tried the quilt centre on a 4 foot bed to see what it looked like and that confirmed for me that it had all been worth the effort. It’s a really joyous quilt.

            Whirligig quilt

And this is the thread saver that I used throughout the construction. It’s a little work of art in itself and it got me thinking what an archaeologist would make of it if it was dug up 500 years hence!!

                  Thread saver

As far as the border was concerned, I wanted to break up the sequence by allowing the odd whirligig to spread into the border. That meant adding 6 ½” strips to the dimensions of the quilt. Here is a sample.

            Border sample

It is impossible to show this quilt in its entirety now as it has long outgrown the design wall. I will probably have this one quilted by cheque book but in the meantime, I will put it away and get on with something else. Here’s a sneak preview …… I will show all next week.

            Sneak preview

Sunday, 6 March 2016

BLOG 290

Blog 290

By way of a diversion, I needed to make part of a mini Delectable Mountain quilt and some quilt blocks for a project. My first attempt was to draw out the block and colour it in with watercolour pencils. It was simple enough to do but it looked like a cop-out to me. I was sure I could do better (famous last words!).

                Watercolour pencils

So I then reluctantly decided that perhaps I needed to try to assemble this block in miniature. I have always admired people who make miniatures, with all that fiddling and precision; my hat goes off to them. I could probably make a full sized quilt in the time it would take me to work on such a small scale. Anyway, I needed to have a go. The Delectable Mountain block isn’t the easiest to work in miniature so here’s the process I used to cheat! I started off with two 2” squares of fabric, one light and the other dark; both had a fusible layer ironed onto the back. I also cut two 2” squares and two 1/8” strips of iron-on Vilene.


I cut the fabric squares in half accurately along the diagonals and swapped them over as follows.

                Cut diagonals

I needed to join a light triangle to a dark one along the diagonal for further cutting so, rather than sew a seam, I used the narrow strip of Vilene across the diagonal to stick them together. (The fabrics have fusible on the back so the ironing must be done onto a non-stick sheet so the fabrics don’t stick to the surface of the ironing board. Speaks she from experience!)

              Diagonal join

The prepared squares are then cut into strips. Place one of the dark triangles to the lower left and the other to the lower right; this is important placement in the construction of this block. I cut them at ½” intervals as shown.


Once these strips are re-arranged, they start to look like the Delectable Mountain block.

                   The block

And this is where the 2” squares of Vilene come in; I used them as a stabilising base for the sequence of strips and ironed them in place.

               Strips on Vilene

At the sewing machine, I folded the vertical joins in turn and sewed a scant seam allowance. Cheating I know but it serves the purpose for my project so that’s fine as far as I am concerned.

                Scant seams

I am making good progress with the Whirligig quilt because I have the time to spend on it and here’s the confession! For the 6 week period of Lent I have given up playing Spider Solitaire and Mahjong on the computer. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time playing these games! Now I spend the same time on this quilt and the progress shows. There is a lesson to be learned from this.

                Whirligig quilt