Archive for category Patchwork and Quilting Projects – General
Regular readers may remember that I have started to wave a crochet hook about in what I hope will be a productive fashion. I’ve made a few practice squares, hearts and circles and am halfway up a multicoloured ‘v’ stitch blanket but I’m also juggling two knitting projects and, like most of us, I can’t remember how many patchwork/dressmaking/commissioned thingies and various other craft projects I have on the go. When something catches my eye, however, I am very easily persuaded from my path and, when that something involves two of my favourite things – fabric and yarn – patchwork and crochet – that particular bull has to be taken by the horns and run with (or is that against the law now?)
So, in the manner of a fancy restaurant with a mélange of dishes gleaned from various parts of the world and calling it ‘fusion cuisine’, I am combining some double sided fabric squares with a border of crochet and making a fusion quilt – or, if I find it too difficult, a fusion handkerchief.
Here is a photograph from Fanny Lu Designs showing a corner of her High Tea Fusion Quilt which is where I got the inspiration (and the instructions!)
Detail of High Tea Fusion Quilt from Fanny Lu Designs – more photos and tutorial here
I went through a phase of buying charm packs (42 x 5 inch squares of coordinating fabrics for those not of the patchwork/quilting persuasion) and then never really knowing what to do with them so, although Tiffany uses 6 inch squares in her tutorial, I had two matching Moda charm packs in my stash all dressed up with no place to go so I decided to adapt, save some money and make some room in my stash at the same time – it can always be replenished later after all.
I also found a pack of 12 x 50g balls of Rowan organic cotton yarn that I had pounced upon like a woman possessed when it was laid on the floor along with numerous other packs of bargain yarns for knitters, crocheters and random passers by to rummage amongst in some sort of woolly rugby scrum. This was at some forgotten knitting/stitching show I attended at some forgotten time – I am more dignified these days 😉 Anyway, so much did I need that pack of 12 x 50g balls that I still have it, untouched, to this day. I thought, as it’s a quite nice ‘tea-stained’ colour, it would make a vintage looking border for my vintage looking fabrics and result in a pretty, vintage looking blanket (or hanky). Plus, as with the fabric charm squares, it would use up some stash and I would end up with a free quilt. ‘Free’ is a relative term when you are somebody who stockpiles yarn and fabric as you probably know if you have been interested enough to read this far.
Here is my first attempt. I quite like the colour but the yarn is a double knit and the Fanny Lu design uses a fingering weight (4-ply?) baby wool so it looks a little ‘thick’ and not as delicate as I might have liked. Also, that Rowan cotton is a mare for splitting and I didn’t fancy doing the whole blanket faffing about with split yarn, not at my novice stage.
So, I faced the fear and ordered a huge cone of ivory cotton 4-ply from eBay. I had it delivered to Mr. T’s office in London. When I spoke to him on the phone he asked me why I’d ordered a large spool of string. The fear returned.
I had a go with another pair of squares and the ‘string’ and I think this looks a bit more like the original idea of a delicate blanket with a vintage look.
I think the thicker yarn would also work – though not the splitty stuff unless you are a complete whizz with the hook and that stuff doesn’t bother you – but, obviously, it would give the finished blanket a different look.
Which do you prefer?
So, I’m going to make this a project I do with my sewing buddy on a Wednesday as we have ‘finished’ our Friendship Braid quilts we were making together. I say ‘finished’ but only the tops are done though we will complete the rest of it as individuals. Maybe. By contrast, this blanket can be made in small pieces and we can crochet the borders while having a chat and complaining about things in France and in general – at least I think that’s what we’re doing, my French isn’t perfect. My crochet skills aren’t perfect either – far from it – so I will probably get carried away from time to time moaning about French drivers (they don’t indicate – you’d think there was a tax on using the indicators or something), the lack of any decent restaurants round here (we’re in France for God’s sake!), the amount of dog poo on the pavements and anything else that takes us on the day and then I’ll have to undo what I’ve done and start again which, I must say, seems to be a lot easier with crochet than with knitting. Just as well as it’s not easy, putting the world to rights.
Time will tell whether I end up with a blanket, a table mat or a handkerchief or just lots of fabric squares with crochet borders waiting, at the bottom of a basket in a corner of my workroom, to be joined together which of course is yet another possibility.
Even though the patchwork block swap I’ve been participating in hasn’t quite finished yet – there’s one month to go – I have actually made all the blocks I need to and I’ve already started getting withdrawal symptoms. Kate and Sue who have run the F2F (Foot Square Freestyle) swap for the past two years, have decided they need a break from organising duties and as I am more of a participant than an organiser I didn’t offer to take it over so, sadly, when Claire receives her 24 blocks from 8 other quilters around the world by the end of February, that will be it.
I found that participating in the swap really motivated me to improve my work, try out some new techniques and get things finished on time
So, what to do next?
I searched around the web for other swaps but the few I managed to find had either already started or didn’t appeal.
Kate has started making a quilt – unusually it will be for herself – from a book both she and I have had for years.
We’ve both been in love with one particular quilt inside it – I even made the templates for it and one block back in the mists of time – but never got any further.
It’s rows of vintage hatboxes made to look as if they’ve been covered in wallpaper, as olden day people used to do, and each one set in the angle of a little cubby hole with a floor and two walls. So, lots of design decisions to be made.
Kate has been busy with it for a few months now – you can see her progress here – and I decided I would join in with her and we would aim to make three blocks per month and publish them on our blogs at the end of the month. This will be my motivation.
I am making a wall hanging for my bedroom rather than a quilt – there is an empty wall behind the bed and I thought this might go well there rather than a picture. I don’t want it to dominate the room or anything so I’m not making it too large, just four blocks wide x three blocks high. If I make three blocks per month, it should be ready to start putting together in May.
Each ‘cubby hole’ is constructed by joining two trapezoids, one reversed, plus an 8.5 inch square which is set in to the angle of the trapezoids. Eek! I was so pleased when I got it right first time and then realised my perfect seam would be covered up with the hatbox appliquéd on top – still, that’s patchwork for you. Here’s a ‘blank’ just so you know I can do it.
And here’s the block after the hatbox has been added.
I decided to use scraps for the backgrounds where possible and Liberty tana lawn for the hatboxes. I realised too late that, because the tana lawn is so fine, you have to be careful what you put underneath it. You can see the stripes of my ‘flooring’ vaguely show through but I thought it sort of looks like part of the design on the box so I’ve left it.
This one is a darker print so I got away with it here but, for the other blocks, I won’t use that particular striped fabric. I am not usually an ‘appliqué person’ but Kate has got me trying several techniques I’ve either never done before or previously said I’d never do such as foundation paper piecing so here’s one more to add to the list. I am using Bondaweb to attach the hatbox shapes and then using a turquoise thread and machine appliquéing on to the background.
This next one had to be re-done because I had used light coloured tana lawn for the hatbox and the ‘floor’ was showing through and making it look as if there was a shadow across the box. I had to peel it off – a tragic waste of both Liberty and Bondaweb -and use a darker design. You live and learn.
I’m enjoying making these hatboxes but my workroom is a mess – strewn with fabrics over every surface as I audition them for ‘wallpaper’, ‘flooring’ , the hatboxes themselves and the bands. Decisions, decisions……
I will finish by proudly announcing that I have managed to complete Dry January without a drop of alcohol passing my lips – apart from that used in cooking which doesn’t count because all the alcohol comes off as vapour (boo!) . I never usually touch Pastis – the favourite aperitif of the French – because wine is my poison and the aniseedy alcoholic tipple makes me go woozy very quickly which is a feat in itself. However, Ricard (the favoured brand of the French when imbibing their favourite aperitif) make a version called Pacific which has no alcohol, no sugar, no calories, no nuffink apart from quite a few E numbers but I haven’t looked them up to see whether they are dodgy ones. As with the real stuff, you dilute it with 5 parts water but, unlike the real stuff, it is already a cloudy colour.
This, and Bucklers non alcoholic beer (which is really Lager if you are British) , kept me on the straight and narrow when temptation threatened to overcome me. I don’t know whether you can get it (or Bucklers) outside of France but, if you can, and you are the designated driver or want an alcohol free evening for any other reason, I would recommend it.
Just a quick post to show you that I really did manage to finish my ‘man quilt’ in time to give it to Mr. Tialys for Christmas. Thanks to Kate for organizing nine quilters for the F2F block swap again this year meaning that, apart from the blocks I made for myself , I also received 24 blocks from Australia, the States, Sweden, the Netherlands and France all diverse and gorgeous in my chosen colours. This swap, just as last year, helped me to improve on my existing skills and develop some new ones – foundation paper piecing is my new addiction.
Thanks also to Kate for encouraging me to finish it by blogging about the Quilt As You Go method which we were both using to finish our quilts, mine for a Christmas gift and her own for another charity auction to raise money for Ovarian Cancer Awareness which you can see here.
Here’s the back in case he gets fed up with looking at the front where you can see more clearly – though not too clearly I hope as my seaming wasn’t always spot on (or anywhere near) – how the blocks are sandwiched together, quilted and then joined with strips.
This quilt will go and live in London to keep Mr. T. warm in his ‘commuter flat’.
Some lovely blocks were sent to me and, because the full length photo doesn’t do them justice, I folded the quilt in half and photographed them separately so you can see each block more clearly. Unlike Kate I don’t live in Australia and the quilt was too long to hang on the washing line without draping on the frosty grass so I had to take the photos indoors on a larger bed than the quilt is intended for – although it is fairly large at about 65 inches wide x 78 inches long (1.6m x 1.9m).
Here’s the top half
and the bottom half
The new – and unintentional – member of the family was testing it out for comfort while I was attaching the binding and I think it passed. (More about him at a later date!)
I just need to ‘sign off’ on the quilt by making and attaching a quilt label which I will do tomorrow and I will sign off on the blog now until just after Christmas when I will hopefully be able to share the contents of my Stitching Santa parcels with you. (Update – received the knitting one today – phew!)
I hope you all have a very enjoyable festive season with lots of good food and good company. Lynn x x
I have been laid low by my first cold in years – which I could have coped with – but it turned into laryngitis. I don’t know that I’ve ever had such a hideously painful throat in my life before but my memory’s got further and further back to go these days so I can’t swear to it. OMG – the pain was excruciating. So much so that I – who have a phobia of being anywhere near a hospital – nearly took myself off to A & E on Sunday morning as swallowing was so painful and as I was trying to cough at the same time I thought it would cut off my breathing. As is clear, I am still here but have been silent since Saturday morning. Mr. T. had always fantasized about such a thing but was soon disabused of the notion it might be ‘a good thing’ when I was unable to answer requests, questions, commands, etc. yelled from the other side of the house but could remain serenely silent and await the yeller – being Mr. T himself or Mlle. T. the younger – to actually approach me and speak in measured tones. Then, the waiting game began whilst I scrawled my replies on a block of notes which finally became useful after years of perching on the edge of the desk. It transpired that, over time, where my handwriting has been abandoned in favour of the keyboard, it is now almost illegible. There followed scenes of what would have been hilarity if I’d been up to laughing, where husband and daughter tried to make sense of my scribble in a desperate attempt to communicate with me. I think I might actually try it again one day when I’m only pretending so that I can sit back and enjoy the show.
In an effort to take my mind off the throat that seemed to have taken over my whole body and made it all hurt – I decided to press on with joining my F2F Block Swap quilt together and, encouraged by Kate, who is also joining one up with the quilt as you go method, and the fact that I sort of realised I’d quite like to present this to the husband for Christmas, I started cutting up the strips. I won’t bore you with the strips put on upside down, the not catching the binding in at the back first time round and all the other little mistakes I made in my Paracetemol/Ibuprofen Alternating state of mind but, suffice it to say, it didn’t go well at first. However, here are the top and bottom corners of the quilt, laid side by side for ease of ‘fit in photograph’ and now I have the right side to do which will consist of two sections of 3 blocks across x 3 blocks down. Then, there will only be one long vertical strip to sew down between the left and right hand sides and I will have a 5 x 6 block sized, husband sleeping on his own in London (at least he better be!) sized quilt. Kate was thinking that this method would avoid the necessity of doing long strips between each completed row and, so far, it seems to be a good idea. Kate explains it much better here should you be interested in going down this path yourself.
Then this came in the post and I was very touched by it as Claire is always making little impromptu gifts for people and sending them out to them and it’s almost as if she knew I was in need of a bit of TLC. So germ infested hugs and kisses to you Claire for such a lovely thought – your timing was perfect.
I love this ad from Poland which is really sweet and funny, encouraging for a post-Brexit Britain and so in the spirit of Christmas so, if you haven’t seen it yet, enjoy!
I’m off to drink more honey and lemon in hot water – I’m almost up to adding a tot of something stronger in it but I’ll wait until after 6.
When Mr. T’s birthday pressie didn’t look as if it would arrive on time – it was coming from China – I was panicking to think of something I could give him so that he didn’t have to look all stoically brave yet secretly upset that he didn’t have anything to open apart from his birthday card.
I’ve mentioned before that he has embarked on making leather goods – mainly handbags (hoorah!) – so he does need a certain amount of sewing equipment including needles and, being a bloke (and an untidy one at that) he tends to scatter his haberdashery items around the table top in the shed. I love any excuse to use the word ‘haberdashery’ it’s one of my favourite words – the French word for it is ‘mercerie’ which doesn’t sound nearly so exciting.
Anyway, I decided to make him a needlecase so that he can keep all his leatherworking needles in one place and off the floor where our dogs could step on them on their way through the shed into the garden as, unlike us, they don’t wear slippers in the house.
I used all scraps for this so, conveniently, it allows me to link to Kate’s Scrappy Happy day this month.
I didn’t give him my stork scissors – they are in their just for photographic purposes but I haven’t seen my seam ripper for a while and, I don’t know about you, but I can’t survive long without mine.
His present did turn up on the day in the end so he got a bonus and all feet and paws will be safer.
While I was at it, I made another one which will be a stocking filler for Mlle. Tialys the elder – she says she reads my blog but seems suspiciously ignorant of anything I put on it so I think the secret is safe
I can’t really claim this one as a scrap project as the cover fabric was new but the rest is from the scrap bin.
Finally I’ve found a use for the Kam snaps I seem to have a stock of too.
Did I say ‘stocking filler’? That brings me to the subject of Christmas and as it’s such a miserable Monday – weather wise and world news wise – I thought I’d cheer you up by giving you the links to the annual battle of the ads designed to win your hearts at this time of year between Sainsbury’s and John Lewis. If you’re in the U.K. you might already have seen them. Manipulatively sentimental, of course, but both beautifully done. I bet you can guess which one is my favourite.
Now, now, settle down.
This is what I mean
With the amount of independent designers creating patterns to be printed off as PDF files these days, those of you who use them for dressmaking, patchwork or other crafts will know what I mean by the all important inch square when printing patterns. There is no use briefly wafting a tape measure in the general direction of the square and saying ‘yes, that’s about right’ because a minute fraction of an inch bigger or smaller is a mistake that will multiply itself throughout the whole pattern and you will end up with something too big, too small and possibly unusable.
I don’t really hold myself completely to blame as I have never set any scaling on my printer but it seems to have taken control and robbed that inch of a teeny tiny morsel so that after two or three hours of painstaking cutting out, sewing on, joining up and congratulating myself on a beautiful bit of paper piecing, I placed my 12.5 inch square ruler on top of it and realised it was the wrong size.
So this block that I had been so proud of only minutes earlier…..
….. had to have a border put round it to bring it up to the requisite 12.5 inches as it is for the new round of F2F Block Swap which starts this month where all the blocks need to be the same size.
So, it’s still not perfect because those outer triangles have had their inner points a little truncated because of the sizing but I think I might still give it to the person I made it for either as a spare block for her eventual quilt or to make a cushion to match.
I know I’m a European and all (for now, anyway 😉 ) and should be speaking in metric tongue but, with patchwork, it really is easiest to keep it in inches. It seems to be the universal language of patchwork – except in France. (How is it in the rest of non-British Europe? – can anybody enlighten me? Do inches rule?). When I was cutting out fabric for another FPP block the other day at my friend’s house, she only had metric rulers and cutting mats. Quelle horreur! However, in a desperate attempt to get on with it, I converted the centimetres into inches and cut the pieces out accordingly. When I got them home and measured them against my imperial rulers, they were all wrong. I think I said ‘merde’ because it is one of the few French swear words I know which is not too rude. Although no French swear words are as bad as some of the ones I know in English (again, unless somebody can enlighten me 😉 ) So, in future, when I go to sew ‘chez Sandra’ I will be taking my own mat and ruler.
I am the first recipient of the blocks this time round and I have already made my three, two of which I have already shown you but here is a ‘little’ reminder
and this is the third one
This is called ‘Building Blocks’ – guess why. The darker ‘side of the block’ is actually navy blue but you get the idea. I just love those little dogs. The pale grey background, morphing into a slightly darker grey is not because the colour ran in the wash but is part of my haul of beautiful Gelato ombré fabrics. The colour starts dark(ish) at one selvedge edge, fades gradually into the middle and then starts getting darker again. I bought a half yard bundle and so have a lot of colours. It is actually very useful and you can see some more of it in the pale greens I used in the ‘failed’ block I showed earlier.
I’ve decided that the colours I’ve chosen for my blocks this time round are quite ‘masculine’ and realised I have never asked Mr. T. whether he would like a quilt to have in his weekday U.K. apartment as a reminder of home comforts – or perhaps he likes to get away from the fabric fest during the week. Anyway, he liked the idea so that is where my eventual quilt will end up – in the London flat frequented by my husband when he’s not here, shortly to be shared with Mlle. Tialys the elder who has just finished University and has landed a job in Shoreditch which, I am reliably informed, is dead trendy these days. At least I know she will be fed properly three evenings a week.
A bit early – Sandra isn’t due to receive her blocks until July – and in the full and certain knowledge that she will not see this blog – here is the block I re-did for her after I re-sized that inch.
I know the stripes go in different directions on alternate corners but it was deliberate to give the block a feeling of movement – like the blades of a windmill turning. (Yeah, right) However, that did make sense to me once I thought of it
as an excuse so I’ll stick with it.
This lovely pattern is by one of our talented F2F Block Swap members, Esther, in the Netherlands. She is so talented and I’m glad she’s participating again this time because she sent me such amazing work last year and it was what inspired me to try foundation paper piecing out for myself. Now, I’m hooked. She has lots of beautiful patterns available on Craftsy and you can download this one called ‘Out There’ for free on Craftsy here. (Esther – I hope I’ve made you proud 🙂 )
Have you ever had a disastrous experience with PDF patterns?
I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish Kate of Tall Tales from Chiconia – a blogging friend and one of the organisers of the F2F swap – a full and speedy recovery from the back surgery she underwent this morning (Australian time) and hope she gets back to a normal, pain-free life and continue with the things she loves to do as soon as possible.
What’s that bundle of lovely turquoiseness?* I hear you ask.
*made up word
Can she possibly have finished putting together those 36 pieced patchwork blocks – 33 of which were sent to her from Australia, the States, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. as part of the F2F Block Swap? Yes, she has.
I had a little help in the last stages
although as I had to unpick quite a lot of the work I did that day, maybe I should work alone in future
As will be obvious to most, if not all of you, the design on the back of the quilt had to be reversed – a bit like when you’re printing out something you’re going to transfer on to something else so you have to flip it round. Well, I didn’t. So my cunning design on the back was all random and not how I wanted it to be so rows had to be unpicked and re-joined.
Never mind, it’s done now.
I used the Quilt As You Go Method which is ideal for this sort of quilt. Each 12.5 inch square block was layered together with batting and backing and quilted individually. The resulting ‘mini quilts’ were then joined together with sashing and regular readers will be pleased to know that I remembered to ‘butt up my backing’ this time so no squidgy empty bits in the middle. This is the best quilting I’ve ever done because it was so easy to get each 12.5 inch ‘quilt sandwich’ under the machine. That is a Superking sized bed so there would have been a lot of quilt to push around under an ordinary sewing machine.
A risky ‘flung on the grass’ photo shoot.
‘Risky’ because I have 3 dogs and 5 cats who are enthusiastic garden users.
Much less risky and probable, eventual home.
Thank you to all the participants in the block swap – as you can see, all your hard work has made for a lovely quilt which will be well used. Also, knowing there are other people waiting to see the results of their efforts is a really good
kick up the arse incentive for getting a quilt finished in a much quicker time than one is used to doing. No languishing in the WIP pile for this baby.
Not all twelve of us are joining up for the next F2F swap – some have other commitments – but we have a few newcomers and there will be nine for the next one so perhaps I’ll make just a double sized quilt or even a couple of lap quilts .
Speaking of which, I’ve been practising my Paper Piecing and, while still not perfect, I’m happy enough to show you the whole photo this time without censoring the bottom half and it just happens to be in the colours I’ve chosen for the next round which is just as well because it starts next month and my name was first out of the hat to receive blocks. Eek! Here we go again.
Bring it on!
Now, I really must do some housework. Well, after I’ve had a cup of coffee……