Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Overlapping Octagons and Y-seams

For the UandUQAL organised by Sujata Shah I am reproducing the Overlapping Octagons quilt from Roderick Kirakofe's book, "Unconventional and Unexpected". I haven't done much to it over the last few months; this is the present state of this lap quilt.

I have made octagons with red centres surrounded by predominantly dark blue strings.  With this choice I aimed to use up most of my blue and red Civil War reproduction fabrics, and with the red I succeeded and have added more modern reds, but the blue were all so dark I soon started introducing flashes of other colours.

At present they're not overlapping, but I have more red squares cut, and here I've positioned them where red squares will go in the final design.

I am pleased that the overlapping octagons have now emerged.

The octagon blocks have Y-seams at each corner, and inserting the second set of red centre blocks will involve more Y-seams. I wasn't happy about this at the beginning, and so tried making hourglass blocks in the corners, as shown here:

This is one of two hourglass blocks I retained, before I gave up on them. At each of  the corners of this hourglass block five fabrics come together making very bulky seams which I couldn't get to lie flat.

Doing Y-seams, however, means joining only three, which will lie much more easily, especially if the last string in the side panel continues into the corner triangle, as here below.

Sorry about the fuzziness!
In this corner above, one of the four string sets ends in a separate triangle; this is one of the string sets I originally joined to an hourglass block. I rejected that method because of the lack of continuity between the string set and its triangular ending as well as the bulkiness of the join.

There was only one thing for it: Y-seams. I dreaded the thought! Now I'm becoming an expert! Practice makes perfect, they say, and I've had a lot of practice! The secret lies in:
  1. starting sewing the seam at the opposite end to the Y-join,
  2. stopping two stitches before the point of the join and backtracking a couple of stitches. That unsewn space gives you some room to manoeuvre.
  3. starting each seam four stitch lengths further than the join, stitching back two stitches to fix the seam and then stitching the seam further until two stitch lengths before the point and backtracking two to fix the seam.
The mistake I made when I first tried Y-seams was to start at the point where everything came together. It's very crowded there! Much easier to keep your distance from everyone else at the party. Approach slowly and stand still when you're close enough. After following a tutorial from Mary Huey on sewing tumbling blocks, it was plain sailing for me! Mary illustrates the process with lots of excellent, clear photos.

Happy sewing


Mini Wonders table runner. 2019 logo

My Mini Wonders Table Runner is finished and in use on the dining table. This is my first finish for the 2019 Q2 Finish Along list, and was also my one monthly goal for May.

The pattern is by Sheila Christensen and was published in instalments in six issues of "Make Modern". This design looks as if it might be EPP, but in fact it's ordinary piecing; all the pieces are cut from strips using a 60 degree ruler. The strips are either 1.5" or 2.5".

I quilted the border sections and the white pieces in the large hexagons with the walking foot and the setting triangles free motion.


The coloured hexagons are made using two fabrics in each of six colours. I used Alison Glass fabrics from various series.
The borders are white and three shades of grey.
For the binding I cut 2" strips of several of the fabrics used in the table runner,
The backing is "Basicgrey compositions" from Moda (the second word may be something else - it is so faint)
I both pieced and quilted with Aurifil 50wt. colour 2600, dove grey.

I'm linking this week to:

Needle and Thread Thursday
Click on the buttons above to view more new quilts.

I'm linking to "One Monthly Goal" at Elm Street Quilts,
and to 2019 Finish Along at Studio sew of course at the end of June.
Then you'll be able to view other people's progress by clicking on these links.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 11 May 2019

RSC 2019 half way mark!

As the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, organised by Angela, runs from January to October the end of May marks the half-way point. Despite starting more than 2 months into the year I've pretty well caught up, though I will probably make more red and yellow units.

rainbow bow ties

The units finish at 6" square, so the photo represents a 36" x 42" quilt. This is not the final layout; there are still five months and five colours to go. I haven't repeated any of the coloured fabrics, but I have repeated neutrals; despite buying more neutral FQs and having more choice, repetition seems to be inevitable.

I'm linking up to:
grab button for SoScrappy      Quilting is more fun than Housework

Click on the buttons to visit the parties; 
especially the RSC sampler blocks are very pretty. 

Happy sewing


Wednesday, 1 May 2019

One Monthly Goal in May

Last month's goal was to move my Mini Wonders table runner on, and I did. In fact it moved further than I had expected; I finished the top.

Mini Wonders: pattern by Sheila Christensen, published in Make Modern
This month my goal for the challenge with Patty at Elm Street Quilts is to finish it completely:

This is what it looked like four hours ago

and this is now:

I've quilted in all the ditches around the large triangles that make up the hexagons, and between the borders - doing the last one now.

I plan to free motion quilt with light grey 50 wt thread on the white and light grey background, with dark grey 50 wt on the darker greys and hand quilt with big stitches on the colours. Unfortunately I don't have the right colours in my stock of 12 wt cotton. I do however have hundreds of colours of DMC stranded cotton. Has anyone experience of quilting with stranded cotton? I'm rather afraid that the strands will separate, or not be strong enough. I'd really be grateful for your advice on this.

Meanwhile it's back to the ditches!

I'm linking to :
Click on the button to see more goals.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 20 April 2019

Mini wonders table runner is a top!

I have had a subscription to "Make Modern" for about 18 months, and find so many things I'd like to make (and also a few I wouldn't touch with a bargepole - but that's always the way of things!) between its "covers" (being digital it doesn't have covers!) but this is only the second pattern I've followed.

Mini Wonders, written by Sheila Christensen, was a BOM from issue 19 to issue 24. It uses two different prints in each colour, along with one white and three different shades of grey. The pattern is built up of 60 degree triangles and all the pieces are cut with a 60 degree ruler, from strips either 1.5" or 2.5" wide. The top measures 1.24m x 0.5m ( 48.75" x 19.5") All the fabric I used is by Alison Glass, from several series.

English Paper Piecing or Foundation Piecing would have been easier, but would, in my hands, have taken a lot longer, or used a lot more fabric. This was a challenge, and I'm happy to say that my cutting and piecing are both more accurate than I thought beforehand. I accidentally changed the positions of the greys around in the borders, but with so many bias seams in this piece: so be it.

The next task for this piece is to make the other side, as I want a double sided table runner. This won't be completely finished any time soon!

My goal for the month was to move this along, and I have certainly reached that goal, and done more than I had expected.

I'm linking now to
Click on the button above to see what other quilty projects are on the go.

Towards the end of the month I shall be linking to

Click the button after 25 April to see more goals reached this month,

and to
for more finishes ( I hope finished tops qualify).

Happy sewing


Saturday, 13 April 2019

RSC April is aqua

For the Rainbow Scrap Challenge Angela at soscrappy posts a colour every month and quilters around the world make blocks in that colour.

This month's colour is aqua/teal and I have made six bow tie blocks in aqua/teal:

I'll need to make more, but this way I seem to be up to date.

I just need to make January and February's blocks ! The colours have been cut, and now I've bought more neutral fabrics I'm able to cut more 3.5"square pieces. I don't intend repeating the coloured fabrics, but the neutrals will inevitably be repeated, and probably more than once.

I'm linking to 


Click on the button to see more scrappy fun.

Happy sewing


Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Finish Along 2019 Q2 list

Finish-A-Long 2019 logo

My finish along list for the second quarter is short as I'm going to be without a sewing machine for a few weeks. I doubt whether my hands will be totally inactive, but there won't be much quilting done.

1.  The Mini Wonders table runner: pattern in Make Modern issues 19 - 24. I have three of the five blocks finished. this looks as if it could be EPP, but it's regular piecing with lots of tiny pieces with 60 degree angles.

  1. 2.  Overlapping Octagons QAL with Sujata Shah. This photo is from the beginning of February, and even though I haven't done anything to it for the last month, it's quite a bit larger, and I am becoming an expert at Y-seams.

3. Bento bags: how many? No idea!

4. Sewing machine cover. I still have to make a start, although the materials are all ready and waiting.

While I'm away I shall be probably be knitting, or passing the time with EPP, but I doubt very much if there'll be a finish there!

I'm linking to

Finish-A-Long 2019 logo
Click on the button to view this quarter's good intentions.

Happy sewing


Monday, 8 April 2019

OMG April

My One Monthly Goal for April is to move my "Mini Wonders" table runner on further. I don't say finish because these little triangles are very fiddly and have lots of bias edges. I have three more hexagon blocks to make and then the edging.

The pattern is by Sheila Christensen and was published as a BOM in "Make Modern" from issue 19 to issue 24. The hexagons finish at 8" from side to side.

 I started making it about ten months ago, but got sidetracked, as usual! I really hope I can make some progress this month.

I'm linking to

Click on the button to see more handwork aspirations.

Happy Sewing


Saturday, 6 April 2019

RSC colour in March was Green

Every month Angela at soscrappy posts a colour and quilters around the world make blocks in that colour. Angela also posts blocks for a sampler, but this year I'm not making the sampler, instead I've decided on 6" bow-ties.

These are my first six 6" bow-tie units, in the arrangement I shall be making. I'm planning an 8 x 8 grid layout (48" square), but that may change! Anyway I need to make at least ten of every colour to achieve that.

April's colour is aqua and I cut the fabrics for the first six aqua blocks before breakfast yesterday. I was unexpectedly baby-sitting yesterday so got no sewing done! Good job I got up at the crack of dawn or I wouldn't have done any cutting either! I got plenty of knitting done though!

I'm linking up to 

SoScrappy          Quilting is more fun than Housework   

Click the buttons to see more (scrappy) quilts in progress.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 30 March 2019

Squared Away finished!

Finally I've finished my Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt from 2018. This is my third finish for my 2019 FAL Q1 list.

I expected to have it finished months ago, but with one thing and another it got passed by. Now however it's finished: labelled, quilted and bound, and as I write, in the washing machine.

The blocks were chosen by Mari (the academic quilter) and the monthly colours chosen by Angela (Soscrappy) and posted each month from January to October last year. I made two ten-inch blocks each month. I'm not making the RSC sampler this year, but am making bow tie blocks in the monthly colours, although I haven't posted about them yet.

I quilted most with free motion swirls, and added a single line of scallop stitch with my walking foot in the border. I recently bought Wendy Sheppard's book, "Stitching Pathways"  (click to read about the book - I'm not endorsing this supplier!) and found it very helpful. I'd stitched swirls before, but Wendy's breakdown of the process really helped me to stay ahead and relaxed.

Here are two more photos after washing:

I'm linking to     SoScrappy

Quilting is more fun than Housework 

Click on the buttons to see more quilters' work.

Happy sewing


Friday, 29 March 2019

Sewing Room relocation: complete and RSC 2018 progress

To move my handwork (principally sewing) tools and fabric stash to another room was my goal for March.

At the beginning of the month I showed a photo of my "sewing room/spare bedroom", although by then the bed had been given away and the quilting frame had taken its place.

My sewing space was here confined to about 3.5 square metres: too small to open the cabinet completely, and with my stash in various cupboards around the flat.

This room now looks like this:
with my husband's desk in the place previously occupied by my sewing cabinet. (Notice the tiny window facing NE!)

Here's my new room, facing SW,
BIG window!
which used to be our study, and where the shelves were largely filled on the right hand side by computer related stuff, and on the left by books and files related to my work. Having worked from home for most of the last 44 years I had accumulated a lot! Sorting through it all and throwing away took most of March.

I now have most of my fabric stash here behind me when I'm at the sewing machine, along with my Bernina tool box and my scrap buckets made from scrap fabric a few years ago:

from the right of the window, next to the quilting hoop in the previous picture.
I have a good position for my cutting mat to the right of the machine, and can extend the left hand side with an extra leaf which is collapsed at present as I am not quilting at the moment. That gives me a working surface of 1.81 x 1m: luxury!

From the other side of the window (from the left in the first photo) with two shelves of handwork books - mainly patchwork and quilting, but also knitting, dressmaking and lace-making - more fabric stash, WIP boxes next to the printer, and an old metal cabinet (far left above) salvaged about five years ago from the office I was then working in, and is perfect for storing strips by size. There are still boxes and books that don't belong here, so I haven't finished sorting (and throwing away!) but it's a great improvement.

Never before has my sewing gear been so close together and visually present. I'm so happy here!

Sewing has been restricted to the last week, but I have finally made progress on quilting my RSC 2018 quilt, which was my goal for February:

and am approaching the last corner of the binding.

I'm now going to take it outside to finish the sewing on the balcony in the beautiful sunshine (back to winter tomorrow is the forecast!)

I'm linking up to 

Join the parties there by clicking on these buttons.

Happy sewing