Saturday, 30 April 2011

Welcome to my world

My older sister Julia, who comments on this blog as "rolleiflex", usually holding back the much funnier comments she has circulating in her head in case you lot think she's mean, has written a little insight for you all into my sewing room.  I should quickly add here that my first choice sewing room was hijacked by my husband as his study which seemed unfair at the time as I have to camp out on the dining room table but, as the dining room table is big enough to baste quilts on and as I can see the telly and shout at the kids from where I sit sewing, I am trying to make my peace with this decision.  Anyway, here is my sister Julia at our recent family party so you can see what she looks like.

And here you can see me (far right) and a ton of kids and my brother-in-law and my Mum and Dad at the same party.

And here is what Julia had to say about my sewing room: Walking into Lily’s Quilts quilting room is like walking into Winston Churchill’s war cabinet room. It is impressive, intimidating and obviously the place where ALL IMPORTANT DECISIONS are made. By Churchill himself, or rather Lynne. The table is at least octagonal, she has at least 8 chairs to choose from, a view of the garden or down into the sunken sitting room with the roaring fire and conservatory just beyond it. The walls are red and black (the previous owners liked colour in a big way) and there is even a secret staircase leading up and out to an unknown location.

On the table is the mother of all sewing machines with lights, a LED screen, an automatic bobbin winder (to die for when you still have an old hand Singer machine), and all sorts of accessories that mere mortals cannot possibly ever hope to learn how to use.  On the massive table are envelopes containing bee blocks arriving from around the world, envelopes containing bee blocks waiting to be sent around the world, snippets of material, a mini sewing machine owned by one of my nieces and lots of piles of QALs, UFOs, WIPs and scissors galore.

Behind the sewer (ie Lynne) there is an iron and cutting board set up on an old drinks cabinet. The drinks have dust on them. Who has time to drown their sorrows when there is this much work to be done?

And the best bit, even for a very amateur sewer like me, are the rows of boxes of all shapes and sizes piled up along the edges of the room FULL of fab material (fab fabric sounded wrong here). Tons and piles and lashings of beautiful prints from colours to solids to large pieces to minute centimetres of stuff. All waiting to be sewn into something else.  This is a little fraction of the boxes lining the walls of the room.

The rest of the house has quilts lining the walls, quilted cushions on the sofas, quilted mug rugs and children lounging under quilts.

The grand tour ended in me having a go at free motion quilting. I ‘wrote’ Lily’s Quilts in a style that looked like one of those photos of spider’s webs done by a spider sky high on dope. This was honestly my best effort.

 Then Lily did her best effort.

And that is why she usually writes this blog and not me.

Friday, 29 April 2011

A winner and a mystery quilt-a-long

As well as a royal wedding here today in the UK, I have a couple of other bits of news.  Firstly, I have drawn a winner for the Simply Solids giveaway.  And a layer cake of your choice goes to the person who made this fabulous mug rug for her grandmother who is in hospital from my fishy piecing tutorial.  You know who you are but I will be sending you an email anyway to get your mailing details to pass onto Mandy.  


And are you interested in a mystery quilt-a-long?  My Scottish quilting friend Sheila from bluepatchquilter, who has been teaching quilting for a fair few years is running a mystery quilt-a-long
from her blog and through a Flickr group.  Fabric requirements have just been posted and the blocks instructions will be going out fortnightly.  When she first taught this mystery quilt-a-long a few years ago, it was made by the people in her classes in more traditional fabrics and she and I are looking forward to seeing the quilt being given a new lease of life with new and modern fabric choices - just my type of quilt!  The quilt-a-long kicks off tomorrow so, if you're intrigued like me, head here to grab the button, here for the fabric requirement post and here to join the Flickr group and share your progress with a crowd of other mystery quilters.


Thursday, 28 April 2011

It's royal wedding day tomorrow

Now I'm not a great big fanatical loony fan of the royal family or anything like that but it is a big day tomorrow here in the UK what with the royal wedding n all, not least because we have been given a bank holiday so we can sit indoors and watch royalty driving through London in carriages waving at the commoners lining the route, waving plastic flags and wearing plastic flag hats.

So here's a little flag waving in my garden to mark the occasion.  The flag is called "Double Fat Jack" because it's a union jack made from two Fat Quarters, both of which came from my new Sew Fresh Fabrics Unafraid of Colour bundle because, frankly, I am terrified of colour so I asked Peg and Becca to make me a bundle which would force me to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Double Fat Jack measures 22" X 30" and may join with some other Double Fat Jacks later on in the year for a Double Fat Jack Quilt-a-Long if anyone fancies such a thing.  What with the royal wedding and the membership of the new Brit Quilt Flickr group for quilters in Britain hitting 100 this week, I feel we need to do something to celebrate and a Double Fat Jack quiltalong might be just the thing - it would of course be open to quilters all around the globe.

And finally, what is your Royal Wedding name?  You start with Lord or Lady, add one of your grandparents' first name, then your surname is a double barrelled name made up of a street where you were born, have lived or now live and the name of one of the pets you have had during your life.  May I introduce myself, I am Lady Joy Finch-Wally.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Unafraid of Colour Bundle

Just arrived from Sew Fresh Fabrics. I have an idea for these fabrics which has been brewing in my head for a few days. It will be called "Double Fat Jack". Stay tuned.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Yes sir, that's my baby

And here she is - my Doctor Seuss layer cake, comic strip quilt for today's edition of the fabulous online magazine, that is Fat Quarterly.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Fat Quarterly and a Birthday

Well today I have news.  Firstly a quilt I designed is going into Fat Quarterly, the wonderful e-zine for modern quilters, which goes on sale this week.  The theme of this edition is pre-cuts, which I love love love as some of you may have noticed.  And secondly, it was my Mum's birthday party yesterday and I want to show you what we gave her.

So firstly Fat Quarterly, imagine my excitement when Tacha asked me to design a pre-cuts quilt in Dr Seuss fabrics for their e-zine.  I have two boys so am always on the look-out for boy quilts.  Here is a sneak peek of Jack lying on the sofa just now snuggled up under his quilt which I called "Comic Strip" and which you will, I am afraid, have to wait until Wednesday for FQ to be issued, to see it in its full glory and to find out how to make it.

Sneak Peek of "Comic Strip" in the upcoming edition of Fat Quarterly

For her birthday, my Mum asked for a family tree quilt from her three daughters (I am the difficult middle one).  I made this using shot cottons on a soft paisley background and free motion quilted the names on.  We gave it to her yesterday and she loved it (or is a good faker).

Family Tree quilt for my Mum

As an extra surprise present, we gave her a set of the most beautiful Japanese handkerchiefs you have ever seen.  If I had the time at the party, I would have photographed every single one to show you - the colours are so soft and beautiful and each one has the most wonderful simple designs on representing a letter of the alphabet.  Here is a picture of them all lined up in a gift box we put them in.  Here is a link to the Japanese shop they come from although they do not ship them outside Japan.  

And here is a picture of my Mum holding up the "J" handkerchief to show to Ayumi  (one of the nicest and kindest people in quiltblogland and flickrland) who found these for us in the first place.  And yes, this is the UK and we are in the garden in t-shirts although I did spill coffee all down mine.  

Friday, 22 April 2011

QAL Giveaway time

Well it's about time we got around to the promised giveaway.  Mandy from Simply Solids (Europe's leading online Kona solids store) is giving away a layer cake of your choice from her online store.  She has a constantly changing stock of pre-cuts and an ever growing selection of Kona, Moda Grunge, Essex Linen and Freespirit solids as well as Kaffe Fassett shot cottons.  Postage is free in the UK and she has a big sale going on right now that is worth a look if you like a bargain.


Three chances to win:

1.   Anyone who has taken part in the QAL so far or who has posted another Lily's Quilts project to the Lily's Quilts Flickr page automatically gets one bonus entry - just write "bonus entry" in your comment.
2.   Click to follow Mandy's Simply Solids blog or let me know that you already do.
3.   Click to follow this blog or let me know that you already do.  
Good Luck.  This giveaway will close a week today on Saturday 30 April.  

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Mixing Things Up--Guest Post

I’m Kati, and I blog over at from the blue chair. I was so thrilled when Lynne asked me to participate in her QAL and put my own twist on her pattern.  I’ve admired her work since I came across her double circle of geese (which I have yet to attempt).

My immediate thought was to create a Dresden with petals that were strip-pieced.  My initial plan was to only do one Dresden as a mini quilt, but then it grew to four Dresdens and a much larger quilt.  I also cut squares to make half-square triangles for an additional outer border.

I seldom make quilts from patterns, and even when I do I tend to mix things up quite a bit.  This quilt was no different.  I had one plan in mind when I started, but it soon changed into something very different.  I realized the four Dresden circles together weren’t working for me.  It was going to be a very large quit, especially with the HST borders I had planned.  I decided to break everything down and make changes.  Instead of doing four circles, I chose to focus my quilt design on just one circle.  As I had already cut the pieces for all four Dresdens, I was left with 63 petals from the three remaining circles.  I changed plans and rearranged them for the quilt back instead using the layout from Oh, Frannson’s New Wave pattern.

I debated quite a bit on the final design for the quilt front.  I had about 300 HSTs pieced and ready.  After trying out various designs, I ultimately went with this design I first saw from Red Pepper Quilts.  I love how the focus is on the Dresden circle, yet the arrangement of the HSTs creates an interesting secondary design.  A bit of trial and error went into piecing this correctly with the block set on point.

My finished quilt looks much different than my original plans.  I love the process of designing a quilt.  I tend to arrange and rearrange the quilt components multiple times.  My design wall (which is simply a large piece of felt tacked to the wall) is critical during this process.  The final result is a quilt that is uniquely mine while using others ideas and patterns and a springboard for my design.

Thanks again to Lynne for giving me this challenge using the basics of her QAL to create something that is unique and shows my personal quilting style.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

For Stephanie

New Flickr group..., originally uploaded by Lynne @ Lilys Quilts.
Stephanie, you set me the challenge of posting a picture of something I've made which I am really really proud of and will stand the test of time in terms of design, fabric choices and construction.  Please sum up my oeuvre in one word if you can.  If it's negative, I will be devastated.  And that's a promise.

QAL - QAYG and quilting

You can join this QAL at any time.  The starter post is here and the Flickr group for posting your photos is here.  As you know, I am doing this QAL as a QAYG (Quilt as You Go) where you quilt each block before assembling the quilt.  The method I chose to use came from Penny Sewtakeahike's blog where you quilt with the top and the wadding then join all the blocks together using 1/4" seams then attach a backing in one piece quilting along the seam lines and perhaps around some of the details within the blocks to keep the backing tightly attached.  I will be showing you how I do this but think that a better method, given that these blocks are so large, was shown in the two previous posts on this blog.  

1.   Cut out a piece of wadding an inch or two bigger all round than each of your blocks.  Did you know that batting has a right side and a wrong side?  Get a sewing machine needle and poke it into the batting from each side - it will be much easier to poke it in from one side than the other so that is the side you want facing up.  Place your block on top and iron if necessary to smooth everything out then baste (I use safety pins).  If you are using the method from the previous two posts, you will also need to add a square of backing at this point.

2.  Quilt as desired leaving the outer sashing unquilted if you are using the method from the previous two posts.  I quilted using a spiral over the dresden leaves, straight line quilting in the outer sashing and then different types of FMQ for each block in the remaining background fabric in the inner circle and on the backing that surrounds the outer circle.  

3.   To quilt in a spiral, first decide how far apart you want your quilting lines to be.  I decided on 1 1/2". Then place a line of pins which move slowly away from the inner circle until, after one whole rotation of the block, you have reached 1 12/" away from the inner circle.  

4.   Sew once around the inner circle using your walking foot if you have one and with the stitches set to nice and long (I set mine to 5) and then follow the pins out until the final one. 

5.  Then set a quilt line spacer to 1 1/2" and just keep following the line until you reach the outer circle.  

6.   Loop once around the outer circle then stop.  

7.   Remove the walking foot and swap it for a FMQ (free motion quilting) foot if you have one, lower your feed dogs if you can and FMQ the inner circle and then the background fabric between the circle and the skinny sashing.

8.   Swap back to your walking foot, raise the feed dogs back up and quilt a series of straight lines along the outer sashing strips.  

Here is one of my finished blocks hanging on the line.  I am pretty remedial at quilting so please don't take much in the way of advice from me on this topic but I just thought I would walk you through what I did in case you were looking for ideas.  Now the issue with this photo is that you can't see the quilting so you just have to pretend you can.  Please would as many of you as possible leave comments gasping at the geniosity (made up word) of my quilting even thought you can't see it.  

QAYG - My way

Hi, I am Sheila from Bluepatchquilter  - thanks Lynne, for asking me to contribute to your blog.  I have been reading the QAYG threads in your flickr group and I have a theory that so many of us love patchwork, but quake a bit when we think about quilting.  I guess that is why long arm quilting services are becoming ever more popular.

I have been quilting since 1998 and still leave a quilt top hanging about for ages before finally giving myself a strict talking to and getting down to actually quilting.  Tales of throwing a rolled up quilt, secured by bicycle clips, over your shoulder before embarking upon a quilting session has left an indelible mark on my brain.

I struggled terribly with my first quilt - I had no walking foot, then in 2002 made a largeish quilt and followed the magazine instructions to quilt as you go.  This invlolved the strip method which I found really laborious although I was very happy with the added sashing element this method provides.

In 2004 I started teaching classes locally and devised my quilting in chunks method.  It is virtually the same method as decribed by Leanne and Marci in the post before this one, although the wadding is joined by hand (doesn't take too long and I don't do hand stitiching too often!!).  However, I wanted to avoid quilting and joining individual blocks. Most of the ladies who attend my classes don't want to heave big quilts through their machines, most had completed the beginners' quilt that I start them off with, it measures about 48" square and they all cope with quilting something of this size.

So I reckoned if , e.g., you made four this size it pretty much adds up to a double quilt size etc, etc..........
I have a handout available here for you to download that outlines the whole technique.

Basically you choose how many sections you wish to quilt. This picture is of a quilt I made using this method - it is a super - king sized quilt and in daily use on our bed, has been thro' the wash a few times now and is none the worse for being put together in this way. I divided the top into three, one 1/4, 1/2 and 1/4 and each part full length - I found thes long chunks ok to handle thro my machine.

Hope my contribution to the debate has been helpful.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Quilt As You Go – joining the blocks

Step 11 - Washed and Dried

Today Leanne from she can quilt and Marci from Marci Girl Designs are blogging together as a guest post on Lily's Quilts. All the pictures in this post were taken by Marci and you can view them on her flickr page here.

To us, one of the scariest parts of a QAYG approach to quilt construction is how to join all those blocks without making a hot mess. Would the quilt have lumpy seams? Would the batting wad up into bumps?

One method is to leave the off the backing while you quilt the front and batting together. Then you sew together the front/batting blocks and add the backing at the end. This allows you to have a continuous backing piece but the quilting from the front will not show on it. Penny at sewtakeahike has a tutorial for this method here.

Some methods use strips applied with, or without, additional batting between the QAYG blocks. The strips can be wide or skinny and add an interesting design element to the quilt. Marianne at The Quilting Edge has tutorials here and here.  Sew We Quilt @ Stash Manicure has a tutorial here. Monica at the Happy Zombie has a tutorial here.

Another interesting approach is to bring the backing fabric to the front between the QAYG blocks and use it as a sashing. There is a video by Penny Halgren showing this method here. This tutorial from Mary Ann at Rocknquilts, explains how to join the batting with an iron-on tape specially designed for batting. This idea is intriguing, but we are not certain that it would work easily in a tight spot and it requires you to purchase the special iron-on tape.

Marci and I wanted a slightly different result. We wanted:
  • a clean join on the front seam without adding any kind of design element to the front or the back of the quilt,
  • the batting securely joined so it would not shift into a lump,
  • as little hand sewing as possible,
  • no bulky seam from sewing the front and the batting together,
  • the quilting to show on the back of the quilt.
So we got into a discussion, exchanged ideas and made some impossible suggestions. That puzzle led us to think harder and come up with the method we are sharing here. Although we are both sure others have solved this problem in the same way, it was not something we had read or heard about before. We both made a small sample quilt to test this approach and we washed and dried the samples. So far, so good.

Here is our approach:

Step 3 - Quilting

Quilt your blocks with the backing fabric in place. Make sure your back fabric and batting are larger than the front block. This gives you something to hang onto while you quilt and the extra for the joining of the blocks later. Leave about 1 inch unquilted at the edges of the front fabric.

Step 4A - Pin Front Seam Together

Align the two blocks and place them right sides together. Fold and pin the batting and backing fabric out of the way. If your fronts are out of line, trim them. Stitch your front fabric, right sides together with a 1/4 inch seam.

Step 5 - Iron Open Seam

Press open the front seam. Be careful to use a heat setting on your iron suitable for your batting.

Step 6 - Cut Batting

With the back of the blocks facing you, lay the piece flat and pin back the backing fabric. Carefully trim the batting with scissors so that when it is lying flat both sides of the batting touch but do not overlap. Perfection is not required here, batting is forgiving.

Step 7 - Pin Batting

Fold the blocks, right sides together. Push the seamed front fabrics into the fold and pin them out of the way. Pin the batting together.

Sew the batting together using a blanket stitch (l_l_l_l_) or a short zig zag (vvvvvv). Stitch slowly so that the needle goes into the two pieces of batting on one side and goes over the edge of the batting into nothing on the other side.

Step 8 - Sewn Batting

When you are done, open the seam and smooth the batting or give it a very gentle tug to flatten it out. The idea is similar to a flatlock that you can do with a serger. You may want to test this out on some scrap pieces of batting to get the best size of stitch to achieve this with your sewing machine.

The goal is to secure the pieces of batting together without creating an overlap or lumpy seam.

Step 9 - Sew Backing By Hand

The last step matches some of the tutorials mentioned earlier. Trim the backing fabric if needed so that the pieces overlap about 1/2 inch when smoothed out. On one side, fold and iron under 1/4 inch of backing fabric. You may want to hang one side over the ironing board to make this easier. Then place the back fabric with the turned-under side on top, smooth, pin and hand sew it in place. Go back to our first photo, that shows this sample after it was finished, washed and dried.

Repeat for all your blocks, horizontally row by row and then vertically row by row.

We are going to use this method on our huge Dresden blocks from Lily's Quilts QAL. If you decide to give this a try, let us know how it works out.


Leanne and Marci

QAL - a quick interim post

Hi y'all, just a quick interim post to let you know that I have a couple of guest posts coming up this week talking about the QAYG (quilt as you go) method they are going to use for this quilt.  I will be posting about the method I am using later on in the week but only to tell you not to do it that way because I think I have probably chosen the worst way for the size of block we are making but am too far advanced now down this route to back track.

I will also be running briefly through how I am quilting this quilt but, given that I am remedial in quilting, I am afraid that the benefit of my wisdom is pretty limited.  I am hoping to see a guest post from a much more experienced quilter which will be much more informative than my free motion kindergarten squiggles.

And so, because a post is not a post without a picture, here are two blocks Just made for Amy Badskirt in a new bee I rashly joined, when my bee diary was already slightly overflowing.  I made the first one then had to make a second one as I hadn't followed the instructions properly and had done the first one wrong.  Amy very kindly said she could probably still use the first one but I think she was being kind.  Hadley Flying Rocket kindly pointed out that this one looks like a level crossing.

Another block for Amy

Block for Amy

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Having Fun with Shruti and Moda Bella Solids

As part of Fresh Sewing Day, one person gets to have a feature on my blog and the winner this time was a lovely Flickr friend of mine, Shruti Dandekar.  She blogs at 13 Woodhouse Road and her Etsy shop is here featuring things like the pattern for this beautiful quilt she designed:

And this quilt she designed:

 As well as this beautiful fabric bundle:

And these stunning hand dyed fabrics:

But the main thing she wanted me to tell you about is the month of fun she has planned in May including a Moda bella solids Quilt-a-long and fun, games and prizes with the Fat Quarter Shop Moda Bella Parade being hosted at her blog and in this Flickr group.  So hop on over to this blogpost to find out more, join in the fun and games, have a go at winning some prizes and maybe join in the Quilt-A-Long to make this beautiful quilt:

Fat Quarter Shop Bella Parade