Friday, 30 December 2011

Spiral Quilts

Spiral quilts can be very intricate and involve complicated templates cutting segments from a circle - or they can be dead simple and just involve half square triangle units.

The sample spiral quilt in the photo was made just to show how simple the design can be - yes, I know the colours are a little stark.  You can imagine how it could look with a spiral of a variety of light fabrics and another spiral of a variety of dark fabrics.

I had expected to need plain squares as well as half square triangle units, but in fact the whole design uses half square triangles only.  The initial placement of four half square triangles as shown marks the beginning of the spiral.

From then on it was easy enough to keep adding half square triangle units to continue the spiral.  The section shown was made from just one 4.7/8" strip of each fabric cut across the width of fabric, so it wouldn't take many strips to make a decent sized quilt.

I sewed the patchwork squares together in pairs, then rows and then sewed the rows together.  If I was making a full bed sized quilt I think it would save time to draw the design first so that I could lay the squares out in rows rather than starting from the middle.

The main reason for today's post is of course to wish all of you a Happy New Year.
May 2012 be the year when all your dreams come true.

Best Wishes


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Snap Bag Pattern

Compliments of the season to everyone.  I hope everyone has had a great time over the Christmas period.  I've had all three children home and it's been a wonderful time.

Earlier in the year I made a snap bag and I realise now that although I had intended to share the idea with you, I didn't actually get round to it.  The snap bag is made using an old piece of metal measuring tape for the fastening.  I didn't think it would work, but it does and it makes a great novelty bag, giving a very satisfying snapping sound when it closes.

I made a fairly normal square bag and I used fabric plaited handles to add a little interest to it.  The important point that makes this bag different from others is that I added an open ended tube of contrasting fabric - one tube for the back of the bag and one for the front.

Cut two lengths of an old metal measuring tape about 1" shorter than the width of the bag.  Try and round the edges of the tape and bind with something to cover the ends of the tape - these can be quite sharp so this step is important.

With right sides together sew one of the side seams of the bag.  This gives you a closed end of the two fabric tubes so that you can slide the tape measure lengths in to the tube and then sew the final side seam.  The right side of the tape must be facing the top fabric (the outside of the bag) in order to get the snapping effect when closing the bag.  Check that you have got the tape pieces facing the right way before you sew that final seam.

The video makes it a bit more clear:

Over  Christmas - while I had to have my sewing machine put away - I began a paper pieced hexagon quilt.  I'll show you more of that when I have done enough to warrant taking a photo.  It's going together fairly slowly, but I'm finding it very relaxing.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Hope to see you again soon.


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Crossword Puzzle Quilt Block

I've had several requests recently for fat quarter quilt ideas.  I know that my sewing machine has to go away while everyone's home for Christmas, but I thought that I would risk one more project before I tidy all my sewing gear away.  The crossword puzzle quilt block is one of those enormous blocks that are great to make because you only need a few to make a decent sized quilt.  It also fits the bill for a fat quarter quilt as it can be made from three fat quarters with a little left over that can be used in the binding.

The block can be sewn in three sections.  The top five and bottom five rows are the same as each other.  They each have a 4.1/2" white square at each end of the first row and a 6.1/2" white square in the middle of the first row.  Everywhere else are 2.1/2" squares.  The photo on the left shows the whole top section and the photo on the right shows half of the top section so that you can get a closer look at the placement of the squares.  It's one of those quilt blocks where it's quite easy to misplace the squares if you're not concentrating.  Make two of these panels.

The middle section is made using a 4.1/2" by 6.1/2" rectangle at each end and 2.1/2" squares everywhere else.  As you can see, it's possible to use either 6.1/2" by 2.1/2" white rectangles or three 2.1/2" white squares above and below that white/red/white strip in the middle.  The photo on the left shows half of the panel and the photo on the right shows the full panel.

When the three panels are complete, just sew them together as shown.  It's a really eyecatching design and very simple to make - not a triangle in sight!  I think that to continue the fat quarter theme I'll probably use different colours for a few more blocks, perhaps just keeping the white to give some continuity throughout the quilt.  Each block is 26" square so you could make a 52" by 78" quilt with only six blocks.

And now I really must tidy the sewing machine and general sewing clutter out the way.

I hope that you all have a marvellous Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Look forward to seeing you again.


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Borders For Quilt Squares

It goes without saying that I love going to quilt shows and exhibitions.  It's wonderful to see how talented and creative other quilters are, and in addition it's such a good opportunity to pick up tips:  a quilt cornerstone with a design that you hadn't thought of, a new way of sewing a butterfly .....  I've picked up some lovely ideas at quilt shows over the years.

Last week's snow reminded me of a lovely idea that I saw a few years ago at a show.  The lines around the squares in the photo are made using a paper napkin.  You could use a white napkin to surround squares with winter themes in them, a green napkin to surround floral or jungle scenes.  The squares could be embroidered, applique or just different fabric squares.

For this example I have used an 11"" square of fabric, although you could sew together much smaller squares to make your quilted wall hanging.  I placed a paper napkin on the right side of the fabric and marked a grid of 3" squares using pencil.  Then I reduced the stitch length to 1.1/2 and sewed along all the lines of the grid.  Don't forget, as I did, to change the stitch length back to normal when you have finished!

Using a wet sponge, I gently rubbed all over the fabric square.  The paper napkin disintegrates except where it is held in place by the stitching, leaving a slightly fuzzy border around the squares.  I have left a fairly chunky border here but you can also sponge more of the napkin away and leave quite a thin border attached to the stitching.  So simple, and yet really quite effective.  Great for a quilted wall hanging which won't be washed, but obviously not much good for a quilt.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Hope to see you again soon.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Tote Bags As Gifts

Do you know what I love about being able to sew:  it's being able to personalise gifts.  I've made this bag for my sister in law who, like my brother and me, lived in Africa for a long time.  The actual bag is a very simple design but the choice of fabric makes it personal to my sister in law.

I was lucky enough to have some of this rather gorgeous fabric from Zimbabwe so I cut two panels out on point.  The sides of the panels were around 10" and I cut four black 9" squares for each panel and folded them in half along the diagonal.  With a bit of fiddling I pinned the folded diagonal of the black squares to the edges of the right side of the blue panel so that there was a 3/4" overlap.  Then I sewed it all in place using a 1/2" seam.  By rolling the black overlap down with my thumb I could hand sew the overlap down to make a curved edge to the panel - a bit like a cathedral windows seam.  By doing this I felt that I was rounding the edges so that it didn't look too geometric.

For the lining and the straps I used a cloud fabric that made me think of Africa even though it didn't particularly match the fabric panels.  That's what I mean about being able to personalise things that you make!

I sewed 2.1/2" strips of black and cloud fabric together with right sides together and then turned the tube right side.

After pinning the straps in place I could add the lining, sew round the top and give my sister in law a great present that she'll know was made specifically for her. (And I enjoyed making it!)

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Hope to see you again soon.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Continuous Bias Binding

Usually I try and avoid using bias binding because it takes longer to make than normal folded straight grain binding,  But there is a way of making continuous bias binding for quilts which is terribly easy once you've got your head around the instructions.  I used a 21" by 12" rectangle because I had one hanging around to show you, but it could be any size.  One small seam and I ended up with around 70" of 2" bias binding.

I placed the fabric rectangle with wrong side up and lined up the 45 degree line of my ruler with the bottom edge of the fabric.  Starting in the bottom left corner I drew lines 2" apart until I reached the top right corner.

Cut off the excess triangles to either side of the lines and put to one side.  Turn the fabric so that it's right side up and fold the bottom up so that the first line of one side of the fabric matches with the second line of the other side.  Pin across the line so that the bottom and top edges are lined up but with a flap at each end.

Sew across this seam then begin cutting along the line.  You will find that it's a continuous line and you will end up with a long length of bias binding.  I have to admit that this is one technique that is almost impossible to describe clearly so I've added the video below to clarify the instructions.

Well, I've written my Christmas cards - not posted yet, but at least I've made a start.  My brother and sister in law are visiting on Friday and I know exactly what type of bag I want to make for my sister in law:  I just hope that I can get my ideas onto the cutting mat in time.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  I hope to see you again soon.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

William Morris Quilt

William Morris was a 19th century textile designer, artist and writer who had a great influence on the English Arts and Crafts Movement.  His designs included lots of flowers and are truly beautiful.  Fabric Freedom has a range of William Morris fabrics which make beautiful quilts and this quilt is my simplified version of one of the Fabric Freedom quilts.

It's a really simple design with the only quilt blocks being a star and a half square triangle unit.  These are sewn together and then by placing the stars diagonally under each other you can get diagonal lines of the different colours of stars.

Altogether I used five different fabrics to give the shading effect along the diagonal rows and I was really pleased with the way it turned out.  As you can see I sewed the quilt blocks together into fours using the different coloured stars and then the quilt came together really quickly.

Here's the video to show you the constructrion in more detail.

The rest of the week seems to have passed in a blur of trying to get ready for the children coming home for Christmas.  My fabric stash is going to need some serious tidying in order to clear the beds in time.

I am experimenting with the idea of selling patterns in dvd form, but so far the technology seems to be beyond me.  When I put a dvd in the computer and then the computer keeps asking me to put a dvd in I find myself shouting at it:  'What do you think I have just done!'.  Luckily no one else in the house to hear me!

I have found a rather lovely quilt block called Georgia which I have started to make up (also in William Morris fabric) and I think it's going to have quite a striking look when I have more of them made up. 
More details on free quilt patterns.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Hope to see you again soon.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Angel Wall Hanging

I love this time of year - even though I no longer have small children and so can't go to the pantomime any more!

I did a tutorial on my website a few weeks back for redwork embroidery using the eagle on the right and I found it so relaxing that I made the festive redwork shown on the left. 

I've used calico for the backing so that I can write on the back if I decide to give it away as a very special card.  The angels are a primitive design and I love them.  I think I might try some primitive applique on a quilt some time in the new year.

It's been a fairly hectic week because I wanted to send out a newsletter showing the quilt as you go fun and done technique.  It's made by machine sewing the backing fabrics together and then hand sewing the backing fabric down as sashing on the front of the quilt.

If that doesn't sound too clear here's the video:

I've just realised that there are only two clear weeks now for me to get everything ready for the family coming home at Christmas.  It's finding somewhere other than the children's beds for my fabric stash that is a major problem - that and deciding on a hand sewn project to begin while my sewing machine is tidied away.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Hope to see you again soon.