Wednesday 25 April 2012

Quilt along #15 - Sharp Stippling

I am participating in Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesdays and after some months of stippling we are off to try some different designs. This week we are looking at Sharp Stippling.

Watched the video and off I went:

Started just doing a row of flame like shapes (about 1/2" scale) and kept going in rows....hmm...not quite as easy as I thought. I could not go much beyond doing rows of the shape. The interlocking of the design somewhat eluded me. I then tried to do it on a smaller scale really concentrating on trying to add some complexity and variation:

My stitching became smaller and smaller...I think that this is about 1/4" scale. Very wobbly in terms of consistency of stitching and the variation in the shape was still a bit 'hit and miss'. I liked the way that this did not seem to matter much in the overall look of the design. The areas don't seem to have to be consistent to look good. Stitching it, I felt that I could not get the 'rhythm' of this design. I needed some sort of image to think about while doing it, similarly to stippling which I originally learned thinking very hard about Mickey Mouse ears. If I just think of flames I seem to produce consistent rows of I included some 'bird' shapes:

This worked a bit better for me...less concentration and more mental images. I went back to a scale of about 1/2" and think that this looks quite respectable. I have got a few larger unquilted areas in it when I could not decide what shape I was going to pursue, but overall the texture is lovely. Quite a nice design but I don't think I could stitch it any bigger than the 1/2" scale.


- how do I get the rhythm of a design? I do doodle the design before I actually stitch it, but that often does not give me the 'flow' or 'rhythm' of it because as soon as I hesitate while sewing I usually loose the general direction in which I am heading. (Maybe I am going too fast in general or it simply needs more practice)
- I am thinking of doing all these practice samples on solid fabric (of which I got stacks) and then later on stitching them together using the Quilt-as-you-go method. Would I just mark myself a square on my fabric and just stitch within that or stitch all over my sample and cut it to size later (wouldn't that become undone then?) when attaching the sashing?
Now off to do some quilting

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Construction of 'An Arrangement of Small Pieces' block or Tools of the Trade

I finally started on my 'Arrangement of Small Pieces' block.

Just looking at one of the four triangles that make up the 9" finished block, the EQ 7 program provided the following instructions:
  • the 2 smaller triangles can be cut from two 4 1/4" squares cut on both diagonals to yield 4 small triangles per colourway
  • the two parallelograms to each side of the small triangle are 2" x 3 3/4".
  • the middle trapezoid shaped strip is 2" x 7 1/4"
There had to be an easier way to approach this. I bought a fairly inexpensive ruler last year...the Companion Angle (10" size) by Darlene Zimmermann. This can be used to cut 1" to 10" quarter square triangles. Triangles are cut with the longest edge on the straight grain. You align your (in this case) 2" strip on the solid line where it says 2" with the little arrow down and cut your triangle shape which in this case will give you a triangle that will finish up at 3".

Initially I thought I would construct this block by strip-piecing the triangle unit together, i.e. constructing a Flying Geese Unit with longer flaps on the side and just joining 2 more strips to the unit, then use the Companion Angle to cut the triangle unit to the right size. While this worked when I tried it out, it produced some inaccuracies, so the matching of points was a bit hit and miss. While I don't mind a bit of inaccuracy here and there, I did not fancy having each of the quarter units let alone the blocks not align properly. This would not only be unsightly but also become an issue for the actual quilting of the quilt later on apart from also being a hassle to piece together. I am not one of those quilters who likes to spend hours on one block. Given that I will make probably 30 or more  of those blocks they do have to come together neatly and with ease so that I actually can enjoy making them.

So, I decided to use the Companion Angle to cut out my units individually

I then used one of the corners of a Marti Michell template (that had the right angle ) to trim the corners to make  alignment of the pieces easier. You could just eyeball that but that never works out really well for me. You can find the link to Marti Michell's website HERE if you are unfamiliar with the concept. I just saw that you can actually buy a little corner trimmer...
I use Marti Michell's templates in the construction of my favourite star, the 54 -40 or Fight star and cannot praise them enough. I think they are the best thing since sliced bread.

Anyway, this worked a treat (I only cut part of the corner away as I am not fitting Marti Michell template pieces together) and gave me a very straight unit (sorry, colourway changed as I was working along)

Next step was to align the trapezoid shaped strip above

See how the trimming of the corners make the piece fit perfectly

The next part is easy. I folded the top white triangle in half and put a grease along the long side and also marked the middle of the completed unit

and here is the completed quarter unit. Looking good so far!

I finger pressed my seams as I went along (in one quarter unit all the seams were pressed up and in the next one I pressed all seams down) as the unit has bias edges all along the short sides and is therefore quite unstable. After joining the quarter blocks in two's, I then joined the two halves together abutting the seams and joining the intersections. It all fitted together very nicely and I had (almost) no issues with the joining up of the units.

Here is what the completed block looks like. I managed to get it pretty much right at 9 1/2" (in some spots I am a bit shy of this but that is pretty much normal for me). Block sits nice and flat after I pressed it with the iron and with a bit more practice should come together quickly. Once completed the block is stable as all the edges are on the straight of grain.

Now, you have to like the stark geometric shapes to get excited by this...probably not everybody's cup of tea, but I am thrilled.

Consider the possibilities!

Alternate colourway and set on point...I think this looks awesome. Discovered this by accident the other day. Late at night, playing around...usually brings out my best ideas and I have not even yet played around much with colours and tones. Will explore this a bit more...there is another quilt in the making. But, I stand firm, I am making my first lot out of Thirties fabric.

This little unassuming block has heaps of potential.

Until next time


Monday 23 April 2012

My New Sewing Table

Well, I finally done it...bit the bullet (or more to the point, the purse) and bought a proper sewing table from Horn Sewing furniture. The whole caboodle...table plus extension table (came as a freebie because of Mother 's Day promotion) and also a chair (still waiting for it).

My husband has spent most of Saturday to put it all together. I bought the Outback MkII...

Bit of a comes with an insert which turned out to be the wrong size (why is this always happening to us?), so I will have to go back to the shop today to change that. Also, the table has now ended up in the spare room, smack bang as you walk into the room...originally I was going to put it in the family room thinking that I could fold it up after each sewing session into this inconspicuous little cupboard. While it does fold up (the sides swing in and the back folds down) the extension table is attached to it like this:

It fills in the gap on the left hand corner and is attached with hinges. When the cupboard is folded up it just sits as an extension on the left side. Once it was put together though I realised that in order to open the cupboard for just normal sewing the extension would have to swing in its place in the back, hence you may as well open the whole thing right up which then make it very big (1160mm depth).  So, the family room was out and it had to go in the spare room where all my quilting things live there also is a bed in the room it makes it all a bit squeezy, on the other hand, the sewing set up is brilliant (and this will ultimately become my sewing room in the future, I think). As the extension table was a freebie we have been thinking to maybe just take it off and run with the original idea of having it sit in the family room and only fold out the back flap as I need it...however, now that I have seen the solid space it actually can give me in the back, I am not so sure what is the better option here.

Isn't it funny how hard it is to change your mindset at times. Looking at the cat, she seems to think...whatever! this photo.

Until next time


Sunday 22 April 2012

An Arrangement of Small Pieces

Earlier in the year I spoke about my project for the year...a quilt made with a block called "An Arrangement of Small Pieces". I found this block on my favourite web site  Antique Geometric Quilt Designs and somehow got fixated on it (and I mean fixated - not quite sure why but I really like its name and the idea that a quilt actually is an arrangement of small pieces). However, then the setting up of the blog, moving house and life in general got in the way and I did not make any progress on it whatsoever. The last few days I was trying to again explore the origins of the block a bit further however this has proven difficult. It is included in Maggie Malone's 5500 Quilt Block Designs Book (2003) and I believe it got published originally in the Kansas City Star publication (by Nancy Cabot?). I thought that I had once come across it on the web, however could not find it anymore anywhere. In Maggie Malone's book it is given as a Nine Patch block and on the Antique Geometric  Quilt Design web site it is presented as a 6 X 6 grid.

First of all, I drafted the block in my trusted EQ7 program using the 6 x 6 grid. Initially I had it as a 12" block, however then later scaled it down.

An Arrangement of Small Pieces
This is what it looks like. I then explored how best to sew this. I did do a practice sample earlier in the year but now that I am getting closer to actually starting on this, feel that I need to re-visit this. This could be foundation pieced quite easily however I do not fancy foundation piecing an entire quilt...also that would mean (unless my thinking is not quite straight) that the seams of each triangle would be facing up which would cause an issue when putting it all together in terms of lining up the intersections. So, at the moment I am thinking that I am going to piece this having the seams of the triangles alternating, so that it fits together neatly when completing the block.

The whole block would finish at 9" square which is a size that I like working with. In terms of fabric I tried all sorts of things but kept coming back to Thirties fabric. Not that I really like Thirties fabric (my preference is country and reproduction fabrics) but for some reason this block seems to need it. Initially I tried to audition what I had and thought I could complement it with other bits and pieces, however I finally had to concede that this was not going to work - my idea is to do a variation of this block which would involve either having a srappy type look or go for the more restrained scrappy type look which then incidentally gives you a nice secondary pattern.

Restrained Scrappy-type look
Scrappy-type look

So, undecided at this point, and also still looking at ways to simplify the contruction of this block. Anyway, I ended up buying a Moda Jelly roll (30's Playtime, Chloe's Closet) Not cheap, but gives me a lot of fabric to play with and ultimately cheaper than continuously adding to the 'bitses' that I have (and then never quite having enough).
Well, only one thing left to do...I actually have to do a bit of a practice run to see whether I can piece this accurately enough. Also have to continue working on my Craftsy BOM...still working on the February block!

Until next time


Friday 20 April 2012

Liebster Blog Award

Teresa from Hummingbird Hollow Quilts presented me with the Liebster Blog Award yesterday. This was a thrill and a half, to say the least, and definitely made my day. Thank you very much Teresa...very much appreciated.
The Liebster Award (German for favourite) is for bloggers with 200 followers or less. As a recipient of the award, you have the chance to thank and link back to the blogger who gave it to you as well as pass it along to five other deserving blogs.

Not entirely sure where this originated but I have seen it before and wondered what this was about.  I am new to blogging having only started at the beginning of the year. The reason for this blog was to firstly, document the trials and tribulations of my quilting journey and secondly, to participate in Leah Day's FMQ Wednesday Quilt Along. I am slowly getting the hang of this and must say that I am discovering new things all the time. In fact, there is so much out there of which I was not aware of at all...Anyway, let's get to the point of it all:
The Liebster Conventions says that :
1. Thank your award presenter on your blogblog and link back to him/her (check)
    2. Copy and paste the award to your blog (double check)
    3. Present the Liebster Award to 5 blogs that you think deserve to be recognized (see below)
    4. Let them know by leaving a comment on their blog (will do)
    5. Have faith that your follower will spread the love too !

I have chosen the following blogs for the award:
Pauline at

Have a great day


Wednesday 18 April 2012

Quilt Along #14

Larger scale stippling
I did start my review of stippling prior to Quilt Along #13 to finally finish off my baby quilt. I did decide to use stippling after all (tried different designs but had issues with getting it consistent over a larger area) and straight away ran into some issues around scale. If you read my posts from last week I did start to stipple my quilt only to find that I stippled it far too close together (around the 1/2 inch scale). While this looked nice it did not give me the 'feel' that I wanted for that quilt. I wanted it somewhat softer. I then unpicked it all and started again focusing in on the scale aiming for a 1 inch scale of the stipple. This was much harder than it looked initially and was very good practice of what we had tackled in the earlier Quilt Alongs. I managed overall to keep my stipple larger, maybe not exactly at 1 inch but close enough, and while the unpicking was painful, I am glad that I started again because the 'feel' of the quilt is exactly how I wanted it.

Here is Kool Kats. The quilt measures 30.75 x 36.75 inches.

Kool Kats

As I used fat quarters from 'The tale of 2 Kitties' (by Jacqueline Paton for Red Rooster fabrics)  I did not have enough fabric to use for the binding and had to buy some greenish fabric to match the quilt. Was not quite sure about the green fabric I did choose but once it was finished was absolutely delighted. The difference in the binding sets it off quite nicely and adds interest, given that this is a very simple design. Must admit I did not finish the binding by machine as we had learnt in Quilt Along #13 but went back to my usual method of attaching the binding, i.e. sewing it on from the front and hand-stitching the binding to the back. I did follow Leah's example though and washed the quilt once it was done and then blocked it really does make for a better finish all around.

Can't wait for the next Quilt Along.


Tuesday 17 April 2012

Kelie's Giveaway

Kelie from Craft Nurse Quilt is trying to get more followers and has organised a giveaway. Her goal was 10 followers. She now has already 13 followers  and is holding a giveaway. You can have a look at Kelie's giveaway HERE.

Have a good day


Wednesday 11 April 2012

Quilt Along #13

The little wholecloth quilt is finished.

That looks nice and straight, doesn't it? Well, that is not exactly how it turned out. I did soak it and let it dry on the line for a while...when it was almost dry, but still moist enough to be stretched I taped it to the floor...this worked well and it came out dead straight.

I then tried Leah's method of attaching the binding by machine. Used a leftover binding that I had, trimming it to 2".  Initially I was going to use a more fancy stitch , however got a bit lazy and just used a zig-zag stitch. This was difficult first I pinned two sides but found that did not work that well for me. The pins were in the way and I did not seem to hit the line underneath. I then moved along without pins, using my trusted 'unpicking tool' to hold the binding in place. This was extraordinarily slow, but worked. Went around the whole thing in a painstakingly slow fashion, surprised that the mitred corners worked without a hitch.

The problem occurred afterwards...not sure why, but my edges were like tidal waves...I sprayed the piece with water and stretched it out again and it looks a bit straighter but it really wants to be wavy.
Not exactly sure what went wrong but something sure did...never mind, next piece will be better. Possible causes:
- usually I stitch my edges down about 1/8" from the raw edge just to secure the piece...maybe it needed this for stability.
- could the zig-zag stitch be too tight?
- did iron the binding over before attaching it and ..oops!...forgot that I was dealing with polyester batting...may have singed it in at least one would not account for the wavy binding all around though.
- maybe I need to attach the binding a bit tighter all around. Had a similar problem not so long ago with a quilt that was fairly heavily quilted.

Overall, I did enjoy this immensely and would not mind trying another one.

- bit confused about the you always do the blocking before the binding?
- wavy binding...what could have gone wrong?

Until next time


Tuesday 10 April 2012

The Importance of Scale

Finishing my baby quilt (Kool Kats). Decided after all to stipple it ...went ahead and did about half of it the other day only to discover that I stippled far too close together. The loose scale I used was about 1/2 inch and everything seemed to be going fine but after a while I was getting smaller and smaller (probably because I was really wanting to finish this in a hurry so I did not check much). When I finally had a good look at it, I did not like it at all. While I could have lived with the inconsistency of the stipple I obviously did not put much thought into what sort of 'feel' I wanted. Looking at it, I definitely knew that I wanted something much softer...hence a scale of about 1 inch would have been much better.

To unpick or not...? Well, decided to unpick this and start again, otherwise this would likely bother me for weeks to come. Also just heard that I am to become a Great Aunt ...perfect! Pressie already in the making and the 'mum-to-be' is a cat lover...this was meant to be.

Took me about 3 hours today to finish the entire quilt


 A bit hard to see. Sorry, photography is not my thing. I used light green Aurifil 50/2 thread and aimed for a stipple about 1" apart...I reckon I managed about 3/4" on average (the white feature square is 4").  Overall, I am happy with this. Now for the binding and then it is finished. Feel very productive today.


Craftsy BOM

Got side-tracked once again. While my baby quilt is still waiting to be quilted, I am sort of in between projects and nothing really grabs me at the moment, hence I decided to participate in the Craftsy BOM. Completed the January blocks yesterday. The blocks are 12.5"...not a size I usually work with.  Had all sorts of issues with the first block (Asterisk). The seams are too bulky and it does not lie flat. If I want to use this then I will have to do this again. The wonky one was much better block to make.

This was fun...only 3 months to catch up.


Wednesday 4 April 2012

Quilt Along #12

Wow...this was very challenging indeed. The first time I looked at the wholecloth quilt on Leah's post I was not sure whether I could do this. Must admit I was very pleased with my little quilt last week, thinking that this was all going really well.

So with my new found confidence I tackled the microstippling. While it looks alright, I found it incredibly difficult. My first problem was to stay in loose rows when filling out shapes, i.e. the hearts. You would think I would get it after so many hearts to fill in, but for some reason I started filling out one area, making it across, back again and then usually ran into trouble of not having enough space left. I tried all sorts of ways, changing direction, starting at a different spots but somehow did not quite get there. Not that it really matters as it is not very noticeable...however in some hearts, I ended up stopping on the side of the curve rather than neatly at the point.

The next issue was consistency. As Leah suggested I did complete sections in one go as I knew that would be an issue for me. I did the middle section first then the surrounds, hearts and finally the outer section. I did  complete the outer microstippling in one was huge. I noticed that I was getting bigger as I was approaching the end, so those two areas don't really match up all that well. Also, because I had to really concentrate on the scale I often have whole fern frond shapes due to not changing the direction of the shape much...this happened a number of times when I was losing concentration or focusing in on the scale...some more practice is required with this.

I paid no attention to the actual stitches. I could only do this with the speed set at the highest level and really going for it. My stitches have all sorts of issues in there, i.e. some build-up of stitches when I hesitated, some squared up loops, jerky stitches and a stitch length that is probably no more than 0.5 - 1. Hence, undoing any of this was not an option...given the stitch length, unpicking any of this would have been a nightmare. I also think my needle wore out. In the end I had some skipped stitches and the needle eventually broke after I had finished the piece and was just playing around on a practice piece. Every now and then I was in the zone and it went very smoothly but as soon as I thought that, I would loose it again and loose my rhythm when getting into tight spaces. Overall, good practice though...very pleased that I actually finished this. I do like the look of it ...very effective...but very labour intensive.

The final product

Don't really have any questions...Leah's post was really informative and the issues I did come across seem to be a matter of practice, practice, practice...

Until next time


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