Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Family Passport Pattern Giveaway Winner

Amber One Shabby Chick, agreed last week to give away one of her new family passport patterns (which you can buy here). 

And the winner is:

Who is Jo aka dreamalittledreamalot.  Jo, if you send me your email address, I will arrange for Amber to send you the pattern!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

How to match your points

Have you ever wondered how to match that centre point on an eight star block?  

  Star for Floss

1.   Make sure your seams are all a perfect 1/4" or at least are all the same size - without that, you're going to struggle to get perfect points.  

2.   When making a block like this one which is paper pieced in 8 triangles, mark a 1/4" seam allowance on all the internal seams and a 1/2" seam allowance on the perimeter of the block on each PP template.  This will give you the waggle room to trim to a perfect block at the end. 

3.   Sew the four pairs of triangles together starting from the centre of the block.  Since you start at the centre, you are pretty much guaranteeing that that part of the seam will match accurately.  If, by the time you reach the outside of the block, your seam has gone a bit awry, it's less important.   

4.   Press seams open and trim off the little pointy triangles.  

5.   Sew the four resulting squares into the two halves of the block starting from the centre of the block.  

6.   Press seams open.  

7.   Now here's the magic.  Align the final seam and take a pin and slide it vertically through the centre point on each half so they are pinned together at the exact matching point.  Hold that pin through the two centre points vertically and carry the two halves of the block, with the pin sticking out vertically over to the machine.  Slide the whole thing under the needle.  Slide the pin out and slide the needle into the exact point the pin left.  

8.   Sew from that centre point to the outside of the block.  

9.   Flip and sew from the centre point to the other side of the block.  

10.   Press seams open and trim to size.  You will be able to do this beautifully if you have added a 1/2" seam allowance to the outside of the block since that allows for the slight imperfections that result from assembling an 8-piece block like this. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Top Tips for Speedy EPP

I keep getting asked how I EPP so fast.  I don't know whether I EPP any faster than anyone else out there but I do have a few tips for getting your speed up if you're interested in going faster.  For some people, it's all about the process and speed is irrelevant.  I am the opposite; everything I do in quilting is based around getting to finish what I'm making as soon as possible so I can move onto the next idea in my head.  So scream if you want to go faster and read on...

1.   Start with good scissors.  I use Korbond Professional Dressmaking Scissors.  They are heavy, sharp and cut beautifully.  No more hacking away with one of a £1 set of scissors from Ikea for me.  It's a small detail but a decent pair of scissors cuts up the scraps quickly, easily and neatly.  And makes a nice  sound like in a fabric shop, where I sometimes pretend I'm working.

2.   Find a needle you love to work with.  This is a matter of personal preference and I can tell you what I use but you may find something else you prefer.  I like a really long, skinny and very slightly flexible needles and Clover's Sashico needles just work well for me.  Smaller needles make my hand cramp up for some reason.

3.   A decent thread makes ALL the difference. If you're stopping every three stitches to undo knots, the time you take to EPP will double.  I use Aurifil 50wt in cream.  In my experience a lighter colour thread will tangle less than a darker colour thread which I guess has something to do with the amount of dye applied to the thread.  You might prefer to switch to a darker thread if using darker fabrics but I quite like the look of the stitches - since I'm taking the time to hand sew, I may as well shout about it.  

4.   To minimise knots, thread the needle from the end of the thread that comes off the spool so that the knotted end is the one that was the closest to the spool.  Once threaded, run the thread through your fingers two or three times to reduce twisting.  Some people use wax or thread conditioner - I don't find I need them if using Aurifil. 

5.   Stitch eight stitches before pulling the long thread through (similar to loading stitches for hand quilting).  I noticed that, when hand sewing, the last few stitches on a thread are much faster than when the thread is really long because there's less pulling and more potential tangling.  So here's how to take advantage of that.  Sew one stitch and pull the thread through until you have (give or take) 8" of thread through the hole with all the rest staying behind.  Hold the thread remaining behind with a finger to keep it out of the way.  Sew eight stitches using just the short length of thread.  Now to pull the longer thread through.  Lay your hand over the long thread as you use your other hand to slide the thread through the eight stitches.  Laying your hand over the long thread will reduce the potential to tangle.  After some exhaustive and dorky testing, eight seems to be the optimum number.  Fewer and you're not going so fast.  More and the thread tends to snap.

6.   Sew fewer stitches per inch.  Around internetland, I've read how many stitches people use per inch and they use waaay more than me.  I sew at a rate of about 6 stitches per inch.  If you squint at this photo, you can see the number of stitches I use - each side of these lozenges is 1 1/2" long.  It looks nice and neat and it holds well.

6.   The rest of what I do in EPP may or may not be faster than anyone else.  I make my own templates printed off the home printer rather than buying templates.  I pin my templates rather than gluing them.  I stitch baste them through the paper rather than gluing or stitching not through the paper.  I remove the paper templates by unpicking the basting stitches using the blunt end of a needle.  I re-use papers.  All personal taste and no slower or faster than any other method I don't think.  Oh and I like to EPP in the courtyard off my kitchen where my husband and twin girls were sat last night reading their books with a nice glass of something.  I've just noticed my husband has come home from work, changed into shorts and left his socks on.  How very British (he's Welsh so this comment will wind him up).

Thursday, 26 July 2012

What is Flickr Explore?

A few times I've been asked what it means on Flickr when one of your photos is "explored".  It seems that more recently, Flickr emails you to tell you your photo has been explored.  That means that it is one of the photos picked that day to go onto pages of "interesting" photos.  Photos that are explored tend to be those that have had a rush of interest when they're first posted so when you're in a busy swap or when you add your photo to several Flickr groups, it seems to have more chance of being explored than if you just drop it quietly into your photostream.

If you go to bighugelabs scout, you can enter your Flickr name and your explored photos will show up.  Click on "include dropped" and more will appear.  Click on "create a scout poster from these images" and you will end up with one of these posters which you can add to your Flickr photostream or store away on your blog for future reference.  It's just a bit of fun really and a chance to take a little moment to pat yourself on the back, which I'm never averse to.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Sewing treats

Yesterday this came in the post for me - I'm not exactly sure why I deserve this but I'm not complaining. It's a beautifully made teensy little union jack (about 5" x 2") and folds away neatly with a ribbon tie.  It's a thread catcher which you place on the arm of the sofa whilst you're sewing and watching tv at the same time - genius.  Thank you so much to my special bloggy friend, Helen, aka Archie the Wonder Dog for this stunning little surprise. 

And then my younger twin daughter decided to make herself another pillow to adorn her bed of many pillows.  Designed on Touchdraw, she grabbed a heap of Kona solids and pieced and quilted with with black Aurifil 50wt.  Yes, she is her mother's daughter.  

She chose some of the wonderful Robert Kaufman Modern Blocks fabric for the back.  I've stashed some of this away as I think this line really makes the perfect backing for any modern quilt.  I love the idea that, even when it's flipped upside down, you still get a riot of shape and colour.  

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Family Passport Wallet Pattern Giveaway

Amber One Shabby Chick, has lots of kids like I do and has designed a family sized passport wallet, the pattern for which you can find here.

It is designed to carry six passports although there are also instructions in the pattern for a four passport version.  And she has very kindly agreed to let me give one copy of the pattern away here on the blog.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post, simple as that.  And I will pick a winner one week from today.  If in the meantime you want to go ahead and buy the pattern, you can find it right here in Amber's Etsy shop.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Board / Card Game Recommendations please!

OK so I've started this slightly bizarre tradition of taking a trip down memory lane each year before our family holiday and remembering a game I used to play as a child with my sisters and finding it on eBay so I can play it on holiday with my kids.  So far, we've played Pit, a card game where you trade commodities trying to avoid a bear market.  Wow, that sounds a lot dorkier than the game actually is.  In reality you end up completely hoarse from trying to out shout everyone else around the table.  The game is a lot of fun, quite simple and a bit like a shouting version of Happy Families.  This was a game my mum had remembered from her childhood and I remember playing it on the last day of the summer term one year with Jude, Ali and Pee (real name Louise, called Pee because you Pee in the loo) and being told off for being too loud.

The following year we played Contraband, where you try to smuggle goods through customs, lie about having the diplomatic bag and try to keep a straight face when you get the Ruritanian Crown Jewels.  This game is all about having a good poker face so my oldest daughter excels here as she lies easily and with no compunction.  My sisters and I used to play this in Granny Smith's loft room which I remember being a store room full of interesting things for us to poke around in.

Last year we got hold of an old copy of a childhood favourite of mine called Careers where you work your way around the board trying to score love, happiness and wealth in a variety of interesting careers like Prospecting for Uranium and Travelling to the Moon.  Since this game involves very little skill and mostly luck, it's a great family game for all ages.  And it doesn't last forever like Monopoly which has to be the most boring game ever invented because it goes on for so long.  I used to play Careers for hours with my next door neighbour, Kate Harris, who was much cooler than us because she was the youngest of five kids, her parents worked full time so life at her house was pretty unsupervised and her Dad worked for a biscuit company so they had a whole room dedicated to biscuits.  

So what I'm looking for is some kind of a family game - new or old - ideal for 2-6 players from aged 10 upwards.  Not one that lasts six weeks like Monopoly and not one like bridge where, after a glass of wine, you don't stand a chance of remembering key information.  Nor one like Mouse Trap that takes six weeks to build.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Lazy Days Lozenges EPP block

So I played around on Touchdraw with some of the lozenge shapes.  I'm not even sure that these shapes are called lozenges but that's what I'm calling them.  They're basically stretched hexagons where all sides are the same length but the angles are 90 and 135 degrees rather than all being 60 degrees.  So they can tesselate with each other if you rotate the shapes through 45 degrees or they can tesselate with squares, as in my block.  A link to the lozenge templates can be found here.  They should print out so their sides are 1 1/2" long but don't stress if they're not exactly right - as long as all your printed templates print out at the same scale, the pattern will work fine.  And you can turn them into Lazy Days Lozenge blocks like mine or have a play and come up with something different.  If you make anything from them or from the Georgetown Carnival block I'd love to see it in my Flickr group. 

I called this Lazy Days because I'm using lots of scrappy summery fabrics which remind me of the kind of fabrics Brits get out when it's sunny - flowery shirts, bright coloured swimming costumes, funny sun hats, deck chairs, parasols.  We don't see the sun much but, when we do, we completely change the way we dress and live, even if only for one day a year.  I'm appliqueing my EPP and turning them into blocks this year to try to address the problems I've had with my summer EPP projects which is that they never get finished.  I'm thinking that, if they're turned into blocks, they'll be more finishable on the machine once I get back from holiday.  Whether this new plan will make any difference, who knows but it's worth a try.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Georgetown Carnival

Well yesterday I played around with Touchdraw (a vector graphics app for iPad) until I ended up with a version on Katy's Spring Carnival which kind of reminded me of Georgetown Circles.  I've made the first trial block and decided to applique it to squared up FQ  and so the Georgetown Carnival block is born.  As ever, if I am just re-making another classic block I've love to know but, until then, it's the Georgetown Carnival.

It uses the same three basic EPP shapes as Spring Carnival so you can get plastic templates from Katy's  etsy shop here and printable templates from a link from the tutorials page on her blog which takes you here. 

Friday, 20 July 2012

Jumping Jacks - a Fat Quarterly sneak peek

The lovely, funny and talented Amy Smart (who lived a stone's throw from where I lived back in the day although we didn't know it at the time and didn't quilt at the time so it wouldn't have been relevant anyway) has just revealed her Union Jack quilt which she has been working on for many many moons now so I've decided to do the same.  Mine was started over two years ago when I designed a union jack block which then went on to be the bee block in Fresh Modern Bee II.

The UJs are made from several Fig Tree lines but mostly Whimsy.  The blocks are pieced by me and by my fellow bee members in Fresh Modern Bee II (thank you so much ladies for your patience...!).  The blocks are sashed at a jaunty angle and then wide-sashed using the perfect red dot from Cosmo Crickets Circa 1934 line for Moda.  The quilt is backed with another Fig Tree fabric, California Girl.  The pattern for this quilt will be appearing in the coming-very-soon next edition of Fat Quarterly.

July means summer and Christmas

In July I have to plan two lots of sewing.  Firstly the summer EPP sewing which I seem to start planning in about January.  There are two great EPP books out at the moment for inspiration.  The first is Hexagogo by Tacha Breucher.

 She takes takes hexagons and re-mixes them to make fresh modern quilts.  Like this union jack (yes, I love this quilt).

Or this funky quilt.

The other great EPP book out right now is Feathering the Nest by Brigitte Giblin who mixes all kinds of EPP projects with a lovely vintagey feel.

So after some browsing these books and internet chatting and mixing up ideas, I've come up with two summer EPP projects.  The first is a variation on Katy's Spring Carnival pattern made into something not a million miles from my favourite quilt circles (Georgetown Circles) so I'm going to call this quilt Georgetown Carnival.  If anyone wants to play along with me on this one, you can get a template set from Katy's etsy shop here and you can download printable templates from a link from the tutorials page on her blog which takes you here.  I'm going to make this quilt from vintagey fabrics - Curio from Basic Grey, Etchings from 3 Sisters, maybe some French General wovens, all mixed with some creams and greys. 

The second EPP project will use equilateral lozenges which I have drawn up on my iPad using Touchdraw and will be a much brighter project - again scrappy but this time bright scraps against a pale background.  If anyone fancies playing along with me on this one, let me know and I'll make the lozenge template available to you.  I think I will call this one Fruity Lozenges. 

And finally it's July, the time of year when Christmas fabrics ship out to shops and need to be snapped up.  And with that in mind, I've bagged some of Aneela Hoeys new Xmas line, Cherry Christmas for a secret project which I'll be able to show you when Christmas is a bit closer.  

What are you working on this summer?  Do you have any EPP plans?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Moda Sale at Fat Quarter Shop

Kimberley at Fat Quarter Shop tweeted the other day that she had a huge Moda sale going on so I hopped on over there last night post haste.  I placed my order quickly whilst serving the kids their tea and, by the time tea had been cleared up, I had a shipping notification.  You cannot beat Fat Quarter Shop for their wonderful, speedy service.  I treated myself to one of these (French General Panier de Fleurs Wovens).

And some Basic Grey Curio yardage ( I confess I can't show you pictures of the Curio yardage as Kimberley had some bolt ends of my two favourite Curio prints and I cleared them out of both so the pictures have gone from the Fat Quarter Shop site).  But there are some other wonderful treats still waiting.  Like this Fat Quarter bundle of Etchings, one of my all time favourite lines with some beautiful Paris map and architecture prints.

This wonderful Fig Tree Butterscotch and Roses FQ bundle.  I am a big Fig Treet fan and have a wonderful union jack Fig Tree quilt to show you in the upcoming issue of Fat Quarterly...

Plus lots of great yardage including some wonderful grey and cream blenders from Bunny and Hill's Puttin' on the Ritz line which was used in the background of the Windmills and Trees quilt I finished at the weekend.  Sales like this are also great opportunities to stash affordable quilt backings. Pick 4-6 yards of a big bold print in the kinds of colours you like to make quilts in and, next time you finish a quilt, you'll have a wonderful backing ready and waiting.  

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Kokka coming to the Village Haberdashery

Annie at the Village Haberdashery, has a whole load of Kokka fabrics coming in the next 2-3 weeks  including Ruby Star Vinyl by Melody Miller and Nursery Versery by Heather Ross.  10% off for anyone ordering a FQ bundle of either line before they come in.  PLEASE NOTE: You will be charged at the time you place your order. Fabric will be shipped to you as soon as it arrives in the shop.

Ruby Star Vinyl - SALE PRICE £36.44 / Regular price £40.50.

Nursery Versery - SALE PRICE £56.70 / Regular price £63.00.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Abakhan Fabrics - Projects on a Budget

In this economic climate, we are all thinking about what we can and cannot afford to make, what fabrics we can and cannot buy, what notions etc.  Well how about coming up with some ideas for projects on a budget?  THIS FEATURE IS NOW OPEN WORLDWIDE.
Lilys Quilts
<div align="center"><a href="http://lilysquilts.blogspot.co.uk/" title="Lilys Quilts"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-IYlmazEcU1Q/T7N4TR0yVKI/AAAAAAAADDE/JdVy6O4xjYA/s253/Untitled%2BDrawing%2B21.png" alt="Lilys Quilts" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Here's the idea.  You head on over to Abakhan Fabrics and pick out £20 worth of anything that takes your eye.  We send it to you free, you make, photograph and write a tutorial to go on my blog.  And of course there's a button.  I do love a button.

So here's what you need to do:

1.   You can now be anywhere in the world to participate in this challenge!
2.   Leave a comment on this post telling me what you would like to make using £20 worth of anything from Abakhan.  eg. I would like to make a velodrome tea cosy or I would like to make a quilted gold medal.
3.   In a couple of days from today, we will choose a winner who will have one month to choose their booty from Abakhan, make something and write a tutorial.  So for this first item, we will be hoping to schedule a post by end August (sooner if you're ready sooner!).
4.   Will and I are planning on this being a monthly feature so don't be disheartened if we do not pick your idea this month, there are always other months.
6.   The item can be anything at all - clothing, quilted or non quilted items - anything crafty at all really.
7.   Be as original, as traditional, as creative or as simple as you like.
8.   And this month's theme - well how about kitchenalia - anything to use in the kitchen.  

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Windmills and Trees Cot Quilt

A friend of mine asked me to make a cot quilt for her brand new granddaughter.  The quilt is going to stay at her house and be used for all her grandchildren.  She asked for an "heirloom quilt" which is a bit daunting.  She wanted something "modern" and likes the trees I've done in the past.  So, rather than sit down with her and discuss the quilt step by step, I've decided to take the like-it-or-lump-it approach.  So this is what I've come up with and, if she doesn't like it, that's OK, I'll keep it as a wall hanging because I love it.  And I've written up a pattern for this one so maybe, finally, I'll actually get around to publishing a pattern for one of my quilts.  Let me know if you would be interested.



  • The background is grey and cream pinwheels, mostly Bunny Hill's Puttin on the Ritz which I got for a song from Fat Quarter Shop a few weeks back when they were having one of their 50% off twitter sales.  
  • The treetops are Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably from stash.  The tree trunks are a variety of B+W blenders, including some Mama Said Sew, mostly from a B+W blenders bundle Peg at Sew Fresh Fabrics made up for me.  
  • The quilt is of course pieced using Aurifil 50wt, my piecing thread of choice for hand and machine work.
  • The trees are raw edge appliqued and blanket stitched around using Aurifil 40wt.  
  • The quilting is an Aurifil 40wt grey cross hatch with lines 1" apart.  
  • I mark my quilting lines for straight line quilting using a hera marker (a plastic gadget that has a sharpish edge which you run over the fabric leaving a dent in it which you can follow so no risk of leaving a permanent pen line on the quilt).  
  • It is backed and bound with one of Oakshott's "gem" fabrics (garnet) which are cheaper than their shot cottons, are not shot but are made using the same colour thread in the warp and the weft so you get the rich Oakshott colours and the soft Oakshott texture but at a much cheaper price (worth a look).  
  • I tried a new wadding in this quilt.  It is a superwide (95") French cotton wadding from Oakshott.  It is beautiful to use - quite heavy, quite a low loft, a lovely drape once quilted, expensive feeling and you don't get covered in wadding fluff as you do with some of the other cotton waddings.  
  • And lastly, but not in the least leastly, I finish off all my quilts with what I in my head call a "snagging".  Snagging is a term builders use when they finish off all the little jobs on a house.  I don't know if anyone else has a term for the finishing process or if there is a proper quilting term for this part of the process but this is what I do.  I sit down in front of something like an old episode of Friends on the telly armed with embroidery scissors, tweezers and a Korbond lint roller.  Snip threads with embroidery scissors, pull threads with tweezers and run a Korbond lint roller over the threads as you go which will pick up all the stray pieces of thread, wadding fluff, dust, cat hairs and anything else your quilt has picked up whilst it was being made. 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Who won the Oakshott colour box?

So one of the 1808 comments had to get chosen by Mr Random to win this:

So he thought for a few second and picked 1083:

After scrolling and scrolling through comments, I found Tiffany from Always Sewin' Something

And, in case she doesn't recognise herself instantly, here's something she made for her 6 month old twin boys.  Congratulations on the Oakshotts, Tiffany although congratulations too on the twin boys! 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Lilys Quilts
Hi, I'm Jo from a life in lists, and I'm not feeling remotely intimidated about posting here on Lynne's blog with its 2,275 followers, 72 billion hits a day (approximately) and generally alarmingly high standards of quilting and design. Nope, not even slightly intimidated. As long as that's clear.
We all know that sewing isn't what might be called a cheap hobby (despite determined attempts to convince our families that it actually saves money, what with all the handmade quilts, mini quilts, mug rugs and pincushions we're not having to buy retail. Ahem), and more and more of us are becoming, through choice or necessity, increasingly budget conscious when purchasing sewing supplies. With that in mind, Abakhan Fabrics have introduced the "Sewing on a Budget" series in partnership with Lily's Quilts.
This months theme is the Olympics, and since I live with a bunch of sailing obsessives (well, one sailing obsessive and two small sailing-obsessives-in-training), it seemed natural to make something with the yacht racing in mind. And so, The Weymouth Picnic Blanket was born.
(In case you're not aware, Weymouth is where all the Olympic sailing events are being held).
As it happens, we're not actually going to Weymouth to watch the sailing (too disorganised, too poor, too busy finding a new house and training for an entirely new career. You know, the usual), but I'm thinking this blanket will be more than suitable for picnicking on while we watch the action on the TV/listen to it on the radio in the garden. And probably for being used as various boats/gymnastics mats/Playmobil athletics tracks by the  children, depending on what we're watching.
The block for the blanket was inspired by a quilt that I saw at last year's Festival of Quilts (scroll a long way down this post for a picture), simplified and enlarged by a factor of about 75.
Oh, and apologies in advance for some of the pictures - I don't know if you've noticed, but for the sake of efficiency the UK has decided to dispense with summer this year and crack right on with autumn, which makes photography a bit challenging at times.
Anyway, on with the  project. I was given a simple brief:
  • £20 budget
  • make a project with an Olympics theme
And... that's it.
Seriously, it was difficult. There is a really good choice of budget sewing supplies at Abakhan, from the endless variations on the theme of gingham, to fabric bundles, buttons and trims. I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to justify working some orange butterfly trim into my project.
Eventually, I managed to choose, and put together a selection of ginghams and plain white fabric for a simple picnic blanket that hints of vintage ginham table cloths and a day's sailing in the sunshine.

The Weymouth Picnic Blanket
(This photograph is what as known as Making The Best of a Bad Situation. A tree fell down in our garden, giving us all a bit of a shock. But it made the perfect hook for a rolled up picnic blanket).
The Weymouth picnic blanket is a generously sized family picnic blanket, measuring 60" x 70", perfect for rolling up and taking to the beach to watch the sailing. Or rolling up and taking to the back garden to make a fort. Or rolling up and taking to the top of the nearest hill for afternoon tea. Wherever you take it, a simple carry strap enables the blanket to be thrown over a shoulder while you marshal children/adults/small animals back home at the end of the day.
Here's what I ordered from Abakhan (all fabrics are 44" wide):
All of that came to about 3p under £20 when I ordered it, but I've just noticed that a couple of the fabrics are on sale now, so it will come in at even less if you go for the same fabrics I've used.
You will also need:
  • White thread (or other pale neutral. I think mine was actually cream)
  • General sewing supplies (sewing machine, pins, scissors etc)
  • Rotary cutter and mat (although if you use exclusively gingham you can actually be pretty accurate with scissors)
  • chalk or pencil for marking fabric
  • All seams are 1/4" unless otherwise stated.
  • Remember to backstitch a few stitches at the start and end of every seam. Polycotton is a fraction more slippery than 100% cotton, so this is extra important.
  • Turn your iron down! Polycotton will warp if you have it on maximum heat - look for the setting for synthetics (I actually have mine a little hotter than the recommended synthetics temperature, but you know your iron best - better to start too cool than too hot).
Making the boat:
NB: In order for the sail portion of this tutorial to work, you need a double sided fabric like gingham. If you use a fabric with a right side and a wrong side, you will need  to cut triangles individually to ensure that you don't end up with two sails facing the same way (if you imagine the mast as a mirror, the sails both face out from it, which only happens because we're going to flip one of the triangles upside down during the cutting process).
Cut one rectangle, 33" x 16.5" from the 1/4" yellow gingham
Cut one rectangle, 33" x 16.5" from the white fabric
Cut one rectangle, 13.5" x 5.5" from the white fabric. Set this aside for now.
Lay the two large rectangles on top of one other (you may have noticed that my white rectangle is pieced thanks to a cutting error on my part. Ignore that) and draw a diagonal line from one corner to another. Cut straight along this line. You should be left with four triangles, two gingham and two white.
Pair up one gingham and one white triangle along their longest side, as shown in the image above, and pin. Set those triangles aside. Before you pair up the second two triangles, flip both the gingham and the white fabric over so that what was your wrong side is now your right side (the fabric will look the same, because gingham is magic like that and white fabric is, well, white fabric). Flipping the fabrics will ensure that your sails mirror one another when they are sewn rather than facing the same way. This sounds complicated, but becomes very obvious when you've got four giant triangles in front of you. Pin these two triangles together along their long side.
Sew together along the long side. Try not to tug your triangles about too much - you're currently sewing two very long bias cut edges here, so there is plenty of scope for horribly distorting your fabrics if you aren't careful.
Repeat for the second pair of triangles.
Open out the triangles and press your seams open, again being careful not to distort your shapes too much.
Time to trim your sails! You'll be trimming them to different sizes, to create the impression of a jib (get me with the sailing lingo) and a mainsail.
When you trim, remember not to chop the top off either of your gingham sails. If you need to trim the top at all to square the edges up, remember to trim some of the width off the long gingham side as well so that the point of the sail is not chopped off. If you need to remove any length (as I did, show in the picture above) trim from the bottom of the sail - it doesn't matter if the bottom of the sail doesn't extend all the way to the edge of the short side.
Trim your first rectangle to 31.5" x 15.5"
Trim your second rectangle to 26.5" x 13.5" - this will necessitate chopping a big chunk off the bottom of your second sail, like this:
You should now have a pair of sails, one smaller than the other. Don't panic if yours have ended up the other way round (i.e. the smaller sail is on the left) - your boat is simply racing the other way! And if you've somehow ended up with both your sails facing the same way instead of mirroring one another, you can either unpick one pair of triangles, flip the fabrics over, and try again, or just pretend to everyone that you are actually depicting a schooner.
Before we add in the 'mast', we need to bring that smaller rectangle back up to size.
Grab the 13.5" x 5.5" rectangle you cut earlier, and pin it, right sides together, to the top of your sail. Sew, and press your seams open. Don't worry about the fact that you've just chopped 1/4" off the point of your sail - this will rectify itself when you sew the sail to the mast.
You now need to cut two rectangles from your white fabric. The easiest way to do this is to cut one rectangle 31.5" x 5", then slice it lengthways so you have two strips 31.5" x 2.5". You now need to trim one of these strips so it measures 30.5" x 5.5". Set this shorter strip aside.
Pin the longer strip to the vertical side of one of the gingham sails - it doesn't matter which one you do first. Sew, then open and press the seam. Repeat, attaching the other side of the strip to the other sail, so it forms a central mast.
(I promise my sails are not quite as wonky as they look in this picture).
Attach the shorter white strip to the bottom of the sails in the same way.
Set your sails aside for a moment - we're going to make the hull of the boat, then join it to the sails.
You need to cut the following pieces from your fabric:
  • one rectangle, 16.5" x 7.5", from 1/4" yellow gingham
  • one square, 8.5" x 8.5" from 1/4" yellow gingham (you can get away with 8.25" squares, but I like plenty of space for trimming half square triangles)
  • one square, 8.5" x 8.5" from white fabric
Draw a pencil line diagonally from corner to corner on the white square. Place the white square on top of the gingham square, pin in place and sew two lines, 1/4" either side of the pencil line you have just drawn (you are creating two half square triangles here). Cut down the pencil line with a rotary cutter and ruler, and press your seams open.
Sew your HSTs to your remaining gingham rectangle, as shown above.
Now you can sew your hull onto your sails. align the hull right sides together with the white strip below the sails, pin and sew.
Unfortunately at this stage in proceedings I lost my space on the sitting room floor to take photos, thanks to the larger of my small children taking up station there with a quilt and a pillow, and it seemed mean to move him since I'd just taken him for injections at the doctor, so you don't get a picture of the completed boat before we move on. But, you know, it looks like a boat.
Adding the white sashing:
You need to cut four rectangles now from the white fabric, all 5.5" x 40.5". If, like me, you only have 1m of the white fabric, you'll find yourself piecing these rectangles from every last scrap of trimmings. Even if you have an extra 0.25m of white fabric, you'll need to do a bit of piecing. It doesn't matter. Admittedly you could have bought an extra 1.5m of white fabric just so you didn't have to piece here, but that would (a) slightly defeat the object of a budget project and (b) be horribly wasteful, so I'm not going to encourage you to do that
unless you're really lazy
(Sorry, small child still taking up the sitting room floor, so I've resorted to the boys' bedroom floor. But you can see the sashing, and where I've pieced the strip at the top of the sails).
You may find that before you sew the white sashing to the boat block, you need to square things up a little bit - with such large pieces it's hard not to end up with the block ever so slightly distorted. It really doesn't matter - this is a picnic blanket that is going to get covered in food and sand and thrown in the wash at 60 degrees to get the stains out, not a precision quilt that you're going to treasure for 50 years before bequeathing it to your favourite grandchild.
You need to add the sashing strips to either side of the boat before the top and bottom. Place each strip right sides together against its respective edge, sew and press the seams open (I'm sure a lot of these seams could be pressed to one side, but I press all seams open out of habit).
Adding the gingham border:
Grab your 1" yellow gingham.
You need to cut strips 8.5" wide to create the large gingham border. The easiest way to do this is to fold your fabric in half selvedge to selvedge, then fold it in half lengthways, and in half lengthways again, before cutting 8.5" strips parallel to the selvedges. The joy of gingham here is that you can make sure that your grain runs totally straight here when you fold the fabric, but don't worry if it doesn't - you can always trim a little off to square it up later. Equally, if you have more fabric, or less, feel free to make the width of your strips more or less than 8.5" - I only chose that because it meant I got enough for the borders from my 1m of fabric!
You will now need to piece your strips to make four strips measuring 50.5". I did this by sewing all the strips end to end, then chopping at 50.5" intervals, but you may prefer to do each strip individually.
Add the two side borders first, in exactly the same way you added the white sashing earlier.
Before you sew the top and bottom sashing on, you need to add the corner stones. Of course, if you don't want cornerstones, you can just piece a little more large gingham to make the top and bottom sashing lengths 60.5" - be aware that you'll need an extra 0.25m or so of the 1" gingham if you want to do this.
To add the cornerstones, cut four 8.5" squares from the 1/4" yellow gingham, and sew one square onto each end of your border strips. Working with one border strip at a time, pin the border, right sides together, to the blanket top, ensuring that the seam where the 1/4" gingham meets the 1" gingham is lined up with the join between the vertical border strips and the white sashing (once again, a photo might have been useful here, but you'll see exactly what I mean when you come to pin.
Your cornerstone should perfectly fit in each corner. And that's it for the blanket top!
The blanket back:
The red gingham fabric for the blanket backing is 44" wide, so you'll need to piece it by chopping off the bottom and adding it to one side in order to create enough width for the blanket back. If you want to piece your blanket back entirely from the 1" gingham, you'll need an extra 0.25m, but in the interests of economy and making a slightly more interesting back, I added a strip of leftover gingham scraps from the front to make the back of the quilt. I haven't got any photos of the back construction as I was piecing it in the dark, tutorial writing having taken a slight back seat to a brief trip to A&E during the afternoon (I dropped a kitchen knife on my toe. Dumbest injury ever. It's fine), but I'll briefly talk through what I did.
I cut a 72" length of red backing (i.e. a bit longer than the blanket top, to give me room for error). I pieced a strip of yellow gingham with red at the top and bottom, again 72" long. I then attached this yellow piece onto one edge of the 72" 1" red gingham piece. I used the excess red gingham fabric to make another skinny 72" strip and added this to the other side of the yellow. The final backing ended up being about 72" x 65", plenty big enough for our picnic blanket.
Sewing the blanket front and back together:
You don't actually have to trim down the backing before sewing the picnic blanket together, but I did for the sake of neatness. You can do this either by measuring the top to ensure that it measures the 60.5" x 70.5" that it should, or by laying the top on the backing (ensuring that both are free from wrinkles) and trimming away the excess, which is what I did. Again, the gingham helps you keep everything square here, assuming you've been cutting it straight all along.
You may find that the red gingham backing shows through the white fabric surrounding the boat (because this is not a 'proper' quilt, so has no batting in the middle). If this bothers you, you can add in an extra layer of white fabric - you could add batting here, but it makes the whole thing a little bulky for carrying easily. If you want to add a layer of white fabric, just piece it as necessary so it measures the same as the top and backing, lay it underneath your backing when you pin the pieces right sides together, and henceforth treat the backing and lining fabric as one piece. It is actually a lot simpler than it sounds - the only potential for going wrong is when you are turning the blanket right sides out again; it's possible to pull the lining fabric through in front of the front fabric, but you can just turn it back inside out and try again if that happens.
Once your pieces are trimmed, lay them on the floor, right sides together (with the lining fabric behind the backing fabric, if you are using it) and pin every 6-12" all the way around the blanket.
Sew your blanket pieces together. I used a 1/2" seam for this rather than a 1/4", so that the seam allowance would be caught in the top stitching and give the blanket a bit of added stability for the abuse it will probably receive as a family picnic blanket. When you have gone round all four sides of the blanket, leave approximately a 12" gap between where you started sewing and where you stop - you will turn the blanket right side out through this gap.
Before you turn your blanket right side out, trim the excess fabric from each corner so that you end up with nice sharp corners once the blanket is turned. Be careful not to cut through your stitching.
Turn your blanket! Pull the fabric through the 12" gap you left, being careful to pull from between the top and the backing, rather than the backing and the lining, if you are using it.
Once the blanket is turned, reach inside and use a point turner or a ruler to push the corners out fully before pressing all around the edge of the blanket, ensuring that the front doesn't roll too far to the back as you press, or vice versa. Press a fold in fabric at the open edges where you left the gap, to make slip stitching it closed a little easier.
Before you top stitch, you'll need to close the opening you left in the blanket using slip stitch, whip stitch or any-other-stitch-you-like stitch.
I am atrocious at slip stitching, so I'm not going to attempt to teach you how to do it here. There are lots of excellent video tutorials on You Tube, and your stitches don't need to be particularly tiny or neat as you are going to be top stitching the edges of the blanket in a moment.
Top stitch all the way round the blanket, 1/4" away from the edge.
Ta da! your blanket is basically finished. However, if you want to make this a really useful picnic blanket, you can make a simple carrying strap.
Making the carrying strap:
You don't need to make a carrying strap like I have here - the blanket fits very neatly in a small bag, or alternatively, when I made a similar strap for my son's play mat I just used a metre or so of cotton webbing. If I'd spotted the cheerful red carpet webbing at Abakhan when I was planning my blanket, I would have used that instead and saved myself a lot of work.
Nonetheless, I'll show you how to make a rather cheerful gingham carry strap. It's pretty.
Fold your fabric from selvedge to selvedge. Cut 4" wide diagonal strips from your fabric - don't be too worried about getting them perfectly on the bias. I normally use a rather fancy folding method to get perfect bias strips, but for the purposes of this project I just cut using the diagonal line on my cutting mat as a guide (you could also cut diagonally across the gingham squares). You need enough strips to get a little under two yards of finished bias tape, so cut yourself around 2.5 yards worth of strips. When you've finished cutting your strips, unfold and cut along the fold line any strips that were cut over the fold in the fabric (where the strip turns a right angle).
Place two strips at right angles to one another, right sides together, overlapping slightly, and draw a chalk or pencil line diagonally across the intersection. Pin and sew along this line. Add another strip in the same way, ensuring that you have right sides facing (even though the gingham doesn't have a right side itself, you need all your seams to have the same wrong side). Continue until you have at least 2 yards of continuous length.
Trim all seam allowance to 1/4" and press seams open
Fold your strip of fabric in half lengthways and press - you should now have a 2 yard length of 2" wide fabric. Take this opportunity to cut off all the little 'ears' that stick out - I like to leave this until I've pressed the fabric in half lengthways as it means all the ears are on the same side so I have to move my scissors less. I'm lazy like that.
Unfold your bias strip, then fold the edges towards the middle as shown above. Press.
Can I just take this opportunity to apologise profusely for the state of my ironing board? Our iron leaks really badly and I refuse to cover the ironing board until we've bought a new iron.
If you're speedy at making bias tape (like your truly) you can fold with one hand and pull through with the other, leaving the iron on the ironing board. Move it occasionally so as not to scorch a great big hole in your ironing board.
Once you have pressed the entire length, fold it in half again (lengthways) so you have a 1" wide strip. Press one last time.
Top stitch all the way round your bias tape, about 1/8" from the edge. You can just do the 'open' edge, but I like to stitch all the way round for security and (mostly) symmetry.
When you get to the ends, unfold the bias tape, tuck in the raw edges, fold it back up again and keep sewing.
Et voila!
Once you've finished sewing the tape, you can wrap and tie round your blanket any way you please. I didn't do anything fancy here, just looped the tape round the blanket, tied a knot, and did the same at the other end.
And there you have it. One (very, very long. I'm sorry, I'm not efficient at writing) tutorial for your own Weymouth Picnic Blanket!
Lilys Quilts
Thanks so much for playing along with me and Lynne and Abakhan fabrics today.